MJ Akbar resigns as minister of state for external affairs

Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

Pressure mounted on Mr Akbar to resign after as many as 20 women journalists signed a petition speaking of the "culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation" that Mr Akbar had "engendered and presided over".

After Ramani, many women shared their "experiences" of being called to Akbar's hotel rooms, sometimes after working hours.

The cases have transfixed India, published on newspaper front pages and becoming a key talking point on prime-time television news shows in a conservative country where discussions about sex are still taboo for many.

If more women entered the workplace, India could increase its gross domestic product by 60 per cent or $US2.9 trillion ($4 trillion) by 2025, according to a 2015 study by McKinsey Global Institute.

Defamation can be a criminal charge in India, and a conviction can carry up to two years in jail.

Following this meeting, Doval returned to the prime minister, and laid out the potential outcomes for the government: that ever-larger numbers of women would testify against a minister the government was seen as defending, adding to the embarrassment.

"Sometimes this law is used to suppress a victim's voice".

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Facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault from women journalists as part of the #MeToo movement, Minister of State for External affairs M.J. Akbar resigned from his post Wednesday, saying it was only "appropriate for him to step down from office and challenge the false accusations".

"I am deeply disappointed that a Union Minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation...", Akbar said. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2016. Following the allegations, opposition parties and various media organisations have been demanding his resignation. Congress spokesman RPN Singh told reporters on Tuesday. "These allegations are false, motivated and baseless".

Akbar had filed criminal defamation proceedings against Ramani for alleging he sexually harassed employees, a claim that was then backed up by more than 20 other former employees of the newspaper editor-turned-politician.

Ramani had "intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious" allegations to harm his reputation, the suit alleged. "I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence", she had said.

Ramani and Akbar did not respond to Reuters requests for further comment on the case. She accused him of "mostly preying on young women who lived alone, loved their jobs and were bright and ambitious".

Former TV producer, director and writer Vinita Nanda, right, is greeted by a friend after filling a complaint against actor Alok Nath in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday.



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