Mumbai: Several prominent people took to Twitter to criticise the statements of MJ Akbar and his wife Mallika on the rape charges brought against the former junior minister by US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi.
US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi, a leader in the National Public Radio, in an article in The Washington Post on Friday accused Akbar of rape when she worked in his paper The Asian Age 23 years ago. She was in her early 20s. Gogoi recalls: “I was in shreds – emotionally, physically, mentally.”
Reacting to that, both Akbar and his wife Mallika released statements today, with Akbar saying the two were in a consensual relationship which “perhaps didn’t end on a best note”.
This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on best note," the journalist-turned-politician told news agency ANI.
Mallika Akbar, who has been silent so far as the #MeToo storm engulfed the former editor and took his minister’s berth, said Pallavi had caused “unhappiness and discord in our home”.
“I learnt about their involvement through her late-night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritise his family,” Mallika Akbar said in her statement.
She further claimed that another woman journalist who accused Akbar, Tushita Patel, and Pallavi Gogoi were often at her home but none of the two carried “the haunted look of victims of sexual assault”.
Reacting to this, Karuna Nundy, an advocate with the Supreme Court, said most sexual assault survivors don't 'carry the haunted look of victims'.
Much as I respect Mallika Akbar, most sexual assault survivors don't "carry the haunted look of victims". Much like wives of renegades, they try to balance the competing demands of patriarchy and carry on with their lives the best they can. https://t.co/UJu9iPSQxz— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) November 2, 2018
Researcher and teacher Maya Mirchandani said that MJ Akbar has clearly woken up to the fact that he can’t scare off the women accusing him with a defamation case.
Consensual between an editor and a 23 yr old employee?! Right,Sure. He’s Clearly woken up to the fact that he can’t scare off the women accusing him with a defamation case. Rape carries a 7 year prison sentence if found guilty. that must have hit home! #MJAkbar #MeToo #MeTooIndia https://t.co/9D6YF0zGVA— Maya Mirchandani (@maya206) November 2, 2018
A former employee of The Asian Age, Krishnadev Calamur, said that Gogoi's rape account is "consistent with newsroom conversations" in the late 1990s.
I worked at The Asian Age in the late 1990s (though I didn't know Pallavi Gogoi). FWIW, her accounts, and those of others, are consistent with newsroom conversations during that time. https://t.co/yPuOiOVdbh— krishnadev calamur (@kcalamur) November 2, 2018
Slamming MJ Akbar, journalist Barkha Dutt said that at least 20 more women have come out with "similar stories" against the former editor.
First: even if it were consensual why would you say: "Pallavi Gogoi caused discord"; betrayal was surely Akbar's. Second: this is about power and it's abuse; that's what throws a question mark over consent. And third there are 20 women with similar stories #Akbar #MeToo https://t.co/f7W3l7v1QX— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 2, 2018
Suhasini Haider, the diplomatic editor with The Hindu, slammed Mallika Arjun for coming to her husband's defence and blaming Gogoi.
MJ Akbar's wife comes to his defence... Blames the journalist, then 23, for an affair with Mr. Akbar. May be worth remembering that more than 20 women have accused him of sexual harassment, forced kissing, pawing and humiliating juniors by appearing in states of undress. https://t.co/NgZgk1vfxm— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) November 2, 2018
Journalist Swati Chaturvedi also came down heavily on MJ Akbar over the latest allegations of rape.
This man plunges new lows everyday. Utter slime https://t.co/eZBjh5jpyv— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) November 2, 2018
Former journalist and columnist Ashutosh called MJ Akbar "devil" and wondered when the BJP will throw him out of the party.