UK-based journalist writes how MJ Akbar offered her massages, tried to kiss her

UK-based journalist writes how MJ Akbar offered her massages, tried to kiss her


It all started with one woman standing up against her harasser and now, #MeToo chorus is being heard from every corner of the country. The campaign took India with a storm with women naming out men who sexually harassed them. Among the high-profile men that have been accused so far is senior journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar.

He was first accused by columnist Priya Ramani, who had written about him in an article she wrote for an international brand in October 2017 – without directly identifying him.

Priya was 23 and Akbar was 20 years older at that time.

So far, more than eight women have come forward and accused Akbar of sexual harassment, and the most recent woman who has come forward and recounted her incident is UK-based journalist Ruth David.

Read | MJ Akbar grabbed me and forced his tongue into my mouth: CNN journalist

Ruth worked as a trainee journalist with a national English newspaper where MJ Akbar was the editor. This was in the year 1999.She recounted how he started calling her into his office which was a room with a big wooden door which ensured no one could hear or see what was going on inside.

“If I ignored the fact that Akbar was staring at my breasts during these conversations I could almost believe he was interested in what I had to say. He was a man three decades older who ‘just wanted to talk’.”

– Ruth wrote in her blog

She further recalled her past incident and wrote, “Akbar asked so many questions, wanting to know every small detail to be used in a slow-burn game of sexual conquest.”

“…he stood behind and offered massages ostensibly because I looked stressed.”

– Ruth wrote in her blog

“He started asking me to proofread the new book he was writing, in his office, sitting on his dark leather chair while he stood behind and offered massages ostensibly because I looked stressed. And when I refused, he would try and kiss me as I squirmed away,” she wrote.

According to Ruth, Akbar began pitching the idea of transferring her to another bureau, where he said he would set her up in an apartment where he also mentioned that he would “come over for home-cooked food”.

“I can’t cook,” replied Ruth, to which Akbar replied, “sandwiches and instant noodles were just fine”, all the while ogling at her, she recounted.

In her blog, Ruth spoke about the constant struggle a victim, of any kind of harassment, goes through.

She, in her blog, talked about how difficult it is for people to believe victims when names of powerful people are involved. Further, in the blog, she recalled how she kept thinking “Who would believe a college student’s word against that of an established, long-married newsman who also had strong political connections”.

“No mission seemed more suicidal than outing him.”

– Ruth wrote in her blog

Ruth also mentioned how Akbar didn’t stop even after she handed her resignation. He told her that he was thinking of her while being in Mumbai (then Bombay).

“He told me how well I would fit into the office there, how fast my career would progress if I just let him move me, what a fool I was to give up such an opportunity.”

– Ruth wrote

Days later, Ruth even got an email from him which said that she had made the worst decision of her life and that Akbar could easily have gotten her into Columbia University in the US.

The blog started doing rounds on the internet and people were seen empathising with her. They applauded Ruth for sharing her story.

Read her entire post here

Watch | Me Too: MJ Akbar in the eye of a storm



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