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‘Vital for women to speak up on sexual harassment’: Priya Ramani in MJ Akbar defamation case

Ramani was recording her statement in a defamation plaint filed against her by former Union Minister MJ Akbar.

SNS | New Delhi |

Journalist Priya Ramani on Monday, told the Rouse Avenue court of Addiditional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal that she hopes that her disclosures against former Union Minister MJ Akbar would empower women and help them better understand their rights. She said, “it is important and necessary for women to speak up about sexual harassment at the workplace.”

Ramani was recording her statement in a defamation plaint filed against her by former Union Minister MJ Akbar.

Senior Advocate Rebecca Johan is representing Priya Ramani and Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra is appearing for Akbar.

“I spoke the truth when I disclosed the experience of my first job interview in my Vogue Article and my tweet of October 8. It was important and necessary for women to speak up about sexual harassment at the workplace. Many of us are brought up to believe that silence is a virtue.”

“In all my disclosures pertaining to Mr Akbar, I spoke the truth in public interest and the public good. It was my hope that the disclosures which were a part of the MeToo movement would empower women and would help them better understand their rights at the workplace,” she told Addiditional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal at the Rouse Avenue Court.

She said the case has come at a great personal cost to her. “I have nothing to gain of it. I am a well-known journalist; I live a quiet life with my family in Banglore.”

She also said that it is not easy for any woman to make such disclosures.

She further said, “By staying silent, I could have avoided the targeting but that would not have been the right thing to do.”

As the #MeToo campaign caught on in India last year, more than 30 women journalists came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against the former minister of state for external affairs.

Ramani had in 2018 narrated her account in a published article. Though the write-up did not name Akbar then, she revealed last year that it was him. By then, more women had come out with their own stories of alleged harassment by the senior journalist.

After a huge row, the journalist-turned-politician gave his resignation in October, 2018. He then filed a criminal defamation case against Ramani.