Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to sack Union minister MJ Akbar from his post, in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment against him by at least eight journalists.
Maliwal also backed the #MeToo movement, urging all women and girls to report any kind of sexual harassment, PTI reported. “This is the right time to please come out, please report so, all these sexual predators that are existing in our society, they need to be taken to task and they need to be put behind bars,” she said.
“I have also appealed to the prime minister through a letter today [Friday],” Maliwal said. “Sir, please first of all remove Mr MJ Akbar from the post of minister in your central government. I think he does not deserve to be a minister any more.”
Akbar has been travelling in Nigeria on work since the allegations came out.
The Delhi Commission for Women chief said she asked Modi to set up fast track courts in the country for rape cases, to increase the resources available to the police and fix responsibility on them, so that women again have faith in the system.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy also backed the #MeToo movement, but said it is the prime minister’s decision whether to sack Akbar. “Since the prime minister has appointed him, it is the prime minister’s call,” Swamy said. “I won’t make a public statement on this.” However, Swamy added that allegations against Akbar date back to a time when he was a journalist, not a politician.
He called the #MeToo movement a “good development”. Swamy acknowledged that some people could be falsely accused of sexual harassment, but added that this happens in cases of other crimes too. “We should encourage women to speak up,” he said.
The Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Samajwadi Party and other parties have demanded a reply from Akbar to the sexual harassment allegations against him, or that he step down from his position.
Since October 5, dozens of woman have gone public on social media with allegations of sexual misconduct. The movement has sent tremors through industries such as film, music and the media. Some of the men accused include former Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, actor Alok Nath, director Vikas Bahl, The Times of India’s KR Sreenivas, author Kiran Nagarkar, and multiple men affiliated with comedy sketch group All India Bakchod.