New Delhi/ Mumbai: The #MeToo fire that raged on Tuesday, charring carefully built up reputations as more women narrated their experiences of sexual misconduct, harassment and worse, spread to engulf Union minister M.J. Akbar and character actor Alok Nath.
Though one of its ministers is prominently involved (six women have come out with their stories of sexual harassment at the hands of M.J. Akbar) there has been a deafening silence from the government which boasts of its Beti Bachao programme intended to address India’s declining child sex ratio and disempowerment of women.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj refused to answer a question on the allegations against Akbar, her junior minister, a journalist-turned-politician.
The external affairs minister was asked, ‘There are serious allegations… these are sexual harassment allegations. You are a woman minister in charge. Will there be a probe into the allegations?’
Ms Swaraj who was accompanied by her aides did not acknowledge the question and continued walking.
The MEA later put out a statement that the incidents (of sexual harassment) happened when Akbar was not in the government.
With fresh cases of sexual harassment coming to light as part of the #MeToo movement, the Editors Guild of India finally woke up on Tuesday from their slumber and asked media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries into all such cases.
However, their ‘strongly’ worded statement sounded like paying only a lip service as the shenanigans of top editors was rather well known and yet the premier institution had not put any system in place for redressal.
The allegations have also given a handle to the main Opposition Congress to hit out at the government.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, ‘This is an extremely sensitive issue. The minister concerned should speak up. Silence cannot be a way out. We want to hear from both the Prime Minister and the minister in question.’
To make the #MeToo movement and its revelations into a political ping pong ball, though, would be seriously damaging a cause that everyone needs to take very seriously.