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'Its Unfortunate That Women Who Faced Sexual Harassment Have To Defend Criminal Proceedings For Telling The Truth': Priya Ramani Tells Court

Karan Tripathi
23 Aug 2019 1:12 PM GMT
Its Unfortunate That Women Who Faced Sexual Harassment Have To Defend Criminal Proceedings For Telling The Truth: Priya Ramani Tells Court
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Priya Ranani gave her statement under section 313 of Criminal Procedure Code, before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, at the Rouse Avenue Court.

The journalist who's facing a criminal defamation case filed against her by MJ Akbar, was given a copy of the questions which revolved around the statements given by the prosecution witnesses as well as her own narrative about the case.

Ms Ramani started off by categorically stating that she stands by her allegations of sexual harassment against the complainant, MJ Akbar, and that she believes that the present case has been filed to divert the attention from multiple allegations against the latter.

Ms Ramani also stated that her article in Vogue Magazine was not intended to harm the reputation of Mr Akbar but only to bring about the stories of multiple women who have faced sexual harassment at workplace.

"My tweets did not become the basis of articles in internationally known newspapers and websites. The complainant is deliberately singling out my tweets. The article is based on the collective account of many women, including me, who spoke about their experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of Mr Akbar. It's false that my tweets affected his reputation. I spoke the truth and there was no deliberate attempt to harm the complainant's reputation", she said.

She went on to comment that the statements given by prosecution witnesses such as Joyeeka Basu, Sunil Gujra, Veenu Sandal and others are their personal statements and they should not be relied upon as they all are close acquaintances of Nr Akbar, and hence, are motivated witnesses.

While narrating her own incident of sexual harassment allegedly by the conduct of Mr Akbar, Ms Ramani also stated that she doesn't believe that Mr Akbar has an impeccable reputation or that he's a strict professional. Further it was said that the complaint has been filed to intimidate her and cause a chilling effect on free speech.

"It's false to say that Akbar is a complete professional, he had an impeccable reputation or was held in high esteem in office. There was nothing scandalous about my tweet. Ms Basu is a false witness and her tweet supporting Akbar the day after I tweeted shows that Akbar's reputation was not destroyed or irreparably harmed in her eyes. It is false for her to say that Akbar's reputation was permanently destroyed. My tweets were not malicious, I spoke the truth. This is a false case filed to create a chilling effect among all the women who had spoken out about their experiences about sexual harassment at the hands of Mr Akbar. It's an attempt to intimidate us and me by deliberately targeting me, Akbar, seeks to divert attention away from the serious allegations of sexual misconduct against him and the public outrage that had followed.", she said. 

Highlighting the #MeToo Movement that encouraged her to share her story, Ms Ramani said that she lifted the veil of anonymity because she finally got the courage and the platform to share her story.

'It's unfortunate that women who have faced sexual harassment at workplace must now defend themselves in criminal proceedings for speaking the truth', she stated while concluding her statement.  

Priya Ramani was the first among a number of women who accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct during his time as a media personality, forcing him to resign as the junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet on October 17 last year.

In 2017 she had written an article in Vogue magazine, sharing her trauma of experiencing sexual harassment from her boss. Though the identity of the person was kept secret in the article, she revealed it last October in a tweet, when #MeToo movement had taken social media by storm.

"In Oct 2017, the MeToo movement in America emboldened countless women to break their silence and share their experiences of sexual harassment at the workplace. In this context, I wrote an article for Vogue magazine addressed to and titled 'Harvey Weinsteins of the ' where I spoke about many women's experiences with many male bosses. I began the article with my experience with Akbar but I didn't name him. One year later when the MeToo came to India, many women in my industry, media, started speaking up about their stories of sexual harassment. I felt, as a senior journalist, a responsibilty to remove the cloak of anonymity. I decided to name the Editor in that Vogue article. I spoke the truth in the public interest and in the context of the MeToo movement. I finally had the courage and platform to name him publicly", she told the Court.

"He has deliberately targeted me to divert attention from serious complaints against him. Through his testimony, he feigned ignorance towards my story and my truth. It's unfortuante that women who have faced sexual harassment at workplace must now defend themselves in criminal proceedings for speaking the truth.", Ramani added.

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