A Delhi court has acquitted a former journalist of defamation charges after he was charged with sexual assault.
Indian journalist Priya Ramani was sentenced to two years in prison for criminal defamation of an article in which she sexually assaulted former foreign minister and newspaper editor Mobasher Javed Akbar in a hotel room during a job interview. Alleged abuse.
Ramani initially wrote an article for Vogue in 2017 without mentioning Akbar’s name, but he decided to go public in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement.
Since Ramani’s statement, more than 20 women have come forward with allegations against Akbar, ranging from rape and assault to the regular use of his senior position to harass young female journalists.
Akbar was the founder and editor of several Indian newspapers as a politician in the Congress party government from 1989 to 1991 before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2014.
As a result of these allegations, Akbar resigned as a junior foreign affairs officer, a very high profile #MeToo resignation in India. He dismissed the allegations as “false, baseless and barbaric” and filed a criminal defamation suit against Ramani in 2018. On Wednesday, the court ruled that he had not proved his criminal case against him.
Akbar brought 97 lawyers with him in his first appearance in the famous court. When the case lasted for two years, Ramani refused to deal with Akbar out of court and told a Delhi court in September 2020 that he had shared his experience to encourage other women to speak up.
“It feels amazing, it really happens,” Ramani told reporters outside the courtroom after Wednesday’s verdict. “I am being harassed by all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment deserves attention despite being who I am. The victim also had to appear in court as an accused.
Ramani said he hoped the decision would “make powerful people think twice before taking the victims to court”.
Following the success of the #MeToo movement in India in 2018, hundreds of women took to social media to express their views against sexual immorality, and some named their alleged harassers. However, many of those who spoke faced legal risks, including criminal defamation.
Many hope the decision will set a precedent. Ramani’s lawyer, Rebecca John, called it “the most important case of her life.”
Judge Ravinder Kumar Pandey’s verdict was lauded by many, especially emphasizing that “even a man of social status can be a sexual harasser”.
“The victim of sexual abuse sometimes does not speak for many years because he may not realize that he is the victim of such abuse. He can be sure that it is his fault,” Pandey told a court in Delhi. The right to reputation cannot be protected at the expense of the right to dignity. “
The decision to acquit Ramani of defamation charges was met with relief and victory by women all over India.
The Good Girls: Sonia Fellero, author of A Massacre, Indian author, said: “It takes a lot of personal courage to speak the truth about power in India, especially when the person in question is a member of the government who Will use every means at their disposal to destroy you. “
Describing Akbar as “the strongest bullet of his invincibility”, Falero said that Ramani’s court victory was “India’s success – the success of every woman and indeed every individual”. At a time when free speech in India is under serious threat, he embodied David and gave us hope.
“This victory is important because it protects women’s right to speak and their #MeToo accounts of sexual abuse and harassment Even if they do not choose them, file lawsuits against their harassers. Many people will not do so unless we strengthen the system.
To acknowledge this, Nondi praised the court’s decision that “a woman has the right to complain of abuse or harassment long after a crime has been committed.”
Dozens of journalists and writers also spoke about the importance of this decision. Tweet journalist Sagarika Goss tweeted, “This is a huge victory for all women in India and a huge step towards gender justice in the workplace.”
Shilpa Rathanam, a television journalist, tweeted, “Her victory feels so personal to me and to dozens of women like me. Journalist Aparna Jain said in a tweet that Priya said, Won for “.
“Priya has to bear the brunt of this whole affair. Travel. Charges. Questions. He has endured the abuse for every woman he knows. Jane wrote, “For all the women mentioned in this case.
Akbar, who denied all the allegations, got the right to appeal.
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