MeToo: MJ Akbar’s statement disappointing, ready to fight defamation complaint, says Priya Ramani

New Delhi: Journalist Priya Ramani Monday asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed in court against her by Union minister M J Akbar and expressed disappointment over his statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”. She also said Akbar was seeking to “silence” the survivors through “intimidation and harassment”.

After returning from Africa, the Minister of State for External Affairs had Sunday rejected the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by several women as “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. He filed a private criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court Monday against Ramani, who has recently levelled the charges of sexual misconduct against him as the #MeToo campaign rages on in India.

“I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy,” Ramani said in a statement.  “By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment,” she added.

“Needless to say, I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” Ramani said.  She added that those who had spoken up against Akbar had done so at great risk to their personal and professional lives.

“At this moment, it is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims. Rather than cast aspersions on the intent and motives of these women, we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women,” the journalist said.

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