A former Indian minister lost a defamation suit against a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment, in a verdict hailed as a major victory for the country's #MeToo movement.
#PriyaRamani was the top-trending hashtag on Twitter in India with many hailing it as a major victory that will inspire other victims to come forward.
Many took to social media to laud the decision along with celebrities from India and Pakistan. Meesha Shafi took to Twitter and wrote, "Congratulations to Priya Ramani as she wins defamation case filed against her by a powerful/influential predator! A milestone victory for the #MeToo movement in South Asia!" She went on to add, "We salute the courage with which you stood up to those in power."
Congratulations to #PriyaRamani as she wins defamation case filed against her by a powerful/influential predator!— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) February 17, 2021
A milestone victory for the #MeToo movement in South Asia!
We salute the courage with which you stood up to those in power. 💫🙏🏼
Bollywood celebs such as Taapsee Pannu, Swara Bhaskar, Richa Chadha and others took to social media as they hailed the verdict. “Amidst all the wrongs and unfairness happening around this did bring a ray of hope that somewhere something is keeping our hope in righteousness alive. Long live truth and justice!” Taapsee tweeted.
Swara tagged Priya and praised her resilience while Richa was ecstatic as justice was served.
In 2018, Priya Ramani became the first of a string of women to go public with allegations against MJ Akbar, a former high-profile newspaper editor and later a junior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Ramani wrote an article in Vogue magazine about the inappropriate behaviour of an unnamed editor the same year and one year later alleged it was Akbar.
She said she was 23 when Akbar called her to a Mumbai hotel for a job interview more than 20 years ago and told her to come up to his room. "Turns out you were as talented a predator as you were a writer. It was more date, less interview," she wrote in the article. "You offered me a drink from the mini bar (I refused, you drank vodka), we sat on a small table for two... and you sang me old Hindi songs after inquiring after my musical preferences. You thought you were irresistible," she said.
"The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you," she said.
Akbar, 70, who has not been charged with any offence, called the allegations "baseless". Soon after, he stepped down as junior foreign minister and sued Ramani for defamation, saying it had caused "irreparable damage to (my) reputation and goodwill".
Ramani told reporters outside the New Delhi courtroom on Wednesday that sexual harassment had got the attention it deserves despite her - the victim - having to stand in court as the accused. "It feels amazing... I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken up against sexual harassment in the workplace," she said.
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