New Delhi: Pallavi Gogoi, the former Asian Age journalist who has levelled rape allegations against former Union Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar, on Thursday quashed the latter’s claims that their relationship was consensual.
In a statement, Pallavi said, “Rather than take responsibility for his abuse of me and his serial predation of other young women who have courageously come forward, Akbar has insisted – just like other infamous serial sexual abusers of women – that the relationship was consensual. It was not.” She further stated that “a relationship that is based on coercion, and abuse of power, is not consensual,” adding, “I stand by every word in my published account. I will continue to speak my truth so that other women who have been sexually assaulted by him know it is okay for them to come forward and speak their truth too.” In an article published on November 1 in the Washington Post, Pallavi narrated how Akbar had allegedly raped her in a Jaipur hotel around 23 years ago, back when the two were colleagues at the Asian Age. She also made claims of several other incidents of sexual harassment by Akbar during their time at the publication.
Pallavi was 22 when she joined the Asian Age, where Akbar was the editor. This was the first instance of a rape allegation being levelled on the former Minister, although a number of cases of sexual harassment surfaced against him as part of India’s #MeToo firestorm. In response, Akbar denied the allegations and said that he and Pallavi had “entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months,” adding that their relationship caused “significant strife in his” personal life as well.
Akbar’s wife, Mallika, corroborated his version of the story, stating that his relationship with the scribe caused a lot of discord and unhappiness in their marital life as there were a number of late night phone calls and public display of affection between the two.