NEW DELHI, 17 Feb: The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) hailed the Delhi court’s order acquitting journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case by former Union Minister MJ Akbar, as well as Priya’s conviction and perseverance to speak up and fight against sexual harassment at the workplace.
This, says the Union, kindles hope for women journalists across the country and elsewhere to change mindsets and fight the system.
Akbar, then Union foreign minister had filed a criminal defamation in a Delhi Court
in October 2018, after many women journalists accused him of sexual harassment, following a tweet by Ramani as part of the ‘#MeToo’ movement revealing that the person referred to as a sexual harasser in an earlier article written by her in ‘The Vogue’ was Akbar.
Taking into consideration the systematic abuse at workplace, the Rouse Avenue Court in its order said: “Woman has right to put her grievance even after decades…Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self confidence. Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of right to dignity… Time has come for our society to understand that sometimes a victim may for years not speak up due to the mental trauma. The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse…”
In a statement, IJU president and former member, Press Council of India, Geetartha Pathak and secretary general and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) vice president Sabina Inderjit said “the verdict will go a long way in encouraging women journalists to speak up against sexual harassment at the workplace and must battle gender-based discrimination.”
Further, the leadership said it is critical that journalists and unions must ensure that media houses have complied with the Vishakha guidelines and have in place Internal Complaints’ Committees to handle and expedite cases of sexual harassment.
Other than this, the IJU, which supported the ‘#MeToo’ movement, said it is vital for organisations to have a sexual harassment policy in place, so that the issue can be understood in all aspects by all stakeholders and women journalists have tools to deal with harassment.