ET View: MJ Akbar’s resignation goes beyond one man, one case

The departure of Union Minister of State of External Affairs MJ Akbar from government is not just welcome, it was necessary to instill confidence in many who were worried that this would be yet another instance of a ‘powerful man’ getting away with abusing women. The many accusations of sexual harassment against Akbar over the last week or so, coming in the tow of India’s #MeToo movement have been loud and clear. But what one watched and waited for was whether there would be any consequences. There has been, and that is deeply reassuring.

That someone like Akbar, both as a minister as well as a former journalist widely admired for his work as a journalist even by his critics, has been held accountable for his noxious behaviour is a sign that India – at least, one section of it – will no longer let sleeping dogs lie. The fact that rumours and ‘industry gossip’ were allowed to remain just that with no ramifications, made the conditions that allowed an accused sexual predator like Akbar freely operate without fear.

With his enforced resignation, two things have become clear: one, when voices against sexual abuse speak out in a concerted manner, the noise becomes an audible statement that cannot be ignored and tucked away; two, that accountability – and not just for sexual abuse, but all kinds of abuse – can be invoked. Beyond this case, it should – and hopefully will – be the ‘new normal’.


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