New Delhi: The #MeToo movement has swept across the nation and the Ministry of Women and Child Development looks keen to ensure the political arena is kept clean. Maneka Gandhi, the WCD Minister, told ANI on Thursday that she had contacted all political parties to ensure a better working environment for women. She said, “I have written to every political party president, requesting them to start an internal complaints committee. I think there are six national parties and about 90 smaller parties. It’s an office, hundreds of women work there and I expect a more conducive atmosphere for them.”
Maneka’s words come in the wake of the uproar over the name of journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar being taken by 20 women journalists alleging sexual harassment at his hands while he was their editor. On Wednesday, Akbar stepped down as the MoS for External Affairs and said would continue his battle in his personal capacity. He has vehemently denied all allegations and has even said it seemed like the campaign was orchestrated with the 2019 general elections in mind. His resignation was accepted by PM Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind by late evening
Akbar went ahead and slapped a defamation case against Priya Ramani, the first woman journalist to have called him out. On Thursday, the Patiala House Court scheduled the next hearing on October 31 when it will examine the statements of the complainant and other witnesses. His lawyer told the court that Ramani’s tweets and articles were defamatory and had damaged the former’s reputation. Akbar also accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and sought her prosecution under Section 499 and 500 of IPC.
While political parties have called Akbar’s stepping down a victory of the #MeToo movement, even the Congress has had to face embarrassment for a few months now as a woman accused the national president of its students’ wing, NSUI, of sexual harassment. Fairoz Khan has stepped down since.