The #MeToo movement has taken India by storm after several women from the tinsel town have come forward to share the stories of sexual harassment undergone by them. Now, even the sexual harassment allegations have been made against the Union Minister and former journalist MJ Akbar and journalist Vinod Dua. Journalism is known as the fourth pillar of democracy and journalists have to follow various ethics while covering the story and create awareness about various issues of national importance to citizens. Therefore, it is expected that they discharge their duties amicably.
BJP spokesperson Avdhut Wagh said, “Sexual harassment is not only happening in Bollywood or with journalists but across the society even in the corporate world. But it is a good sign that women are coming forward and speaking about it openly. They are exposing people.” When asked about the government targeting people who criticise them like Vinod Dua, he replied, “If it was true, then why there would be any allegations against MJ Akbar, as he is a Minister himself, does that mean that BJP is also targeting MJ Akbar!”
The sexual allegations made by women against MJ Akbar and Vinod Dua have tarnished the image of journalists. Even though both Akbar and Dua are yet to be proven guilty but the allegations levelled against them have created a blot on the journalism. Netizens have been trolling journalists for speaking against the government and even bhakts are playing a vital role in maligning them. Ever since actress Tanushree Dutta had made allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar the #MeToo movement has picked up in India as many other women have shared their experience of harassment and sexual violence on social media.
Disha Pawar, freelance sports news writer said, “I wonder what took so long for the #MeToo movement to shape up. Anyway, I am glad it happened. Better late than never! With a different set of names coming out in the open from the media fraternity almost every day, also from the journalism sphere, it’s a pity that we lived amidst hypocrisy for so long.”
“As an aspiring journalist, this is definitely not going to change my inclination towards reporting nor is it going to deter my guts of wanting to break exclusives. If a person chooses to carry out unethical practices at work, it’s his problem, not mine. I don’t have to be careful of my actions, instead the offender should,” she added.
Veteran journalist Vinod Dua has been accused of sexual harassment by filmmaker Nishita Jain. She stated on social media that Dua had harassed her in July 1989. Vinod Dua who hosts the program Jan Gan Man Ki Baat has been known as a staunch critic of the Modi government. The government supporters have been going overboard by criticising Vinod Dua on social media. They have taken the ongoing debate to the next level by making harsh statements against Dua. Even Dua’s daughter Mallika Dua has been trolled by supporters. Thus, Dua is paying a price for being a harsh critic of the Modi government.
Unmesh Gujarati, Resident Editor of Dainik Dabang Dunia, said, “You cannot blame anyone until there is any proof against the person. However, the accusations on MJ Akbar have come out quite late and this is just the beginning. Nonetheless, there are more things yet to come out. The one who used to write against the government, after coming to power they changed their colours and shifted to that party. According to me, most of them might be using this #MeToo campaign for publicity like Tanushree Dutta, who suddenly came to the limelight after 10 years with it. The journalists who are genuine and honest, this campaign might hamper them.”
At least 14 women have accused Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct. The allegations have been made by them as a part of the ongoing #MeToo campaign. Meanwhile, MJ Akbar has termed the allegations made against him as false and baseless. He also is planning to take legal action against women journalists for making allegations against him. He termed the allegations as an agenda to malign his image before the upcoming election. “Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” he said.
Human rights activist and Lawyer Manisha Rote said, “These days, several fabricated news is being published in media. In a very rare case, the truth is being unveiled. Recently, I was being accused by a newspaper despite me as an activist was helping the victim who was assaulted by a police officer. Nowadays, a lot of trolling has been going on over social related to any issue and it is awful to see that the trollers are going to any extent of criticising any famous personality. According to me, a committee should be formed to look into these matters and must deliver fair judgements on the same to avoid these accusations against some innocent men.”
Meanwhile, Congress has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak up on this issue. Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma asked why the PM is silent on such an important issue. The party had demanded the resignation of MJ Akbar in the aftermath of the sexual harassment allegations made against him.