Journalist Priya Ramani, against whom former Union Minister MJ Akbar has filed a defamation case for levelling sexual harassment allegations, on Monday told a Delhi court that the case came at a great personal cost to her.
Ramani was deposing before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal.
“This case has come at a great personal cost to me. I have nothing to gain from it. I am a well-known journalist and live a quiet life with my family in Bengaluru. It is not easy for any woman to express such disclosures,” she said.
She said that by staying silent, she could have avoided being targetted but that would not have been the right thing to do.
“It is important for women to speak up about sexual harassment at the workplace. Many of us are brought up to believe that silence is a virtue,” said Ramani.
She asserted that she spoke the truth in her disclosures in public interest.
“I hoped that the disclosures, which were a part of MeToo movement, would empower women and help them better understand their rights at the workplace,” the journalist said.
On Saturday, Ramani told the court about an article she wrote for the Vogue magazine. She said that while doing research for the article, she could not help but remember her personal story of a meeting with her “first male boss” — Akbar.
“I began the article with my M J Akbar story. I never named him. The first four paragraphs of the article were a brief account of what happened at The Oberoi Hotel in 1993 (where she was called for a job interview with Akbar in the evening),” she had said.
Ramani had, on April 10, pleaded not guilty before the court and claimed trial after the court framed defamation charges against her on a criminal complaint of Akbar.
She has accused Akbar of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago when she was working under him in the Asian Age newspaper. He has, however, termed the accusations “false, fabricated and deeply distressing.”
Ramani was the first woman to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment during the #MeToo campaign. Following her revelations, several women came out with accounts of the alleged sexual harassment by him while they were working under him as journalists.
Akbar, the former Minister of State for External Affairs, had filed a defamation case against the journalist for accusing him of sexual misconduct. The allegations leveled against him forced him to resign from the Union Cabinet on 17 October 2018.