Two weeks after MJ Akbar resigned as Union minister of state for external affairs following multiple allegations of sexual harassment, a US-based journalist, in a column in the Washington Post, has accused the minister of rape.
In a strong write-up, former Asian Age journalist Pallavi Gogoi alleged that she had to “pay a very big price” for being editor of the op-ed page at the Asian Age at the age of 23.
She went on to recount the horror as she relayed how she was allegedly assaulted, verbally and physically, on various occasions.
“For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. He would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw me talking to male colleagues my own age. It was frightening,” Gogoi wrote.
She said she had confided in her friends when she was going through the toughest phase of her life.
Thanking the journalists who had spoken out against Akbar before her, Gogoi said those women had given her the courage to reach into the recesses of her mind and confront the “monster” that she escaped from decades ago.
She also quoted how MJ Akbar had denied the allegations against him as “baseless and wild” and filed a lawsuit against Priya Ramani.
Gogoi also said she was expecting implications for what she has said.
“Akbar has threatened to sue other women who come forward. And maybe there are implications that I haven’t thought of,” she wrote.
Wrapping her piece, she said, she was writing this because she knew what it was like to be victimized by powerful men like Akbar.
She further said she was writing this to support the many women who have come out to tell their truth and for her teenage daughter and son.
Ending on an optimistic note, she said she has risen from those dark times, refusing to let them define her, and that she will continue to move forward.
The Washington Post, in an “Editor’s Note”, said they had reached out to Akbar’s lawyer Sandeep Kapur, for his comments. Kapur responded by saying: “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”
As the #MeToo movement gained ground, 20 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who had accused Akbar of sexual harassment.