NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Indian minister M.J.Akbar said today he had resigned to fight allegations of sexual harassment levied by several women, the biggest scalp in the country’s #MeToo movement that gathered momentum last week.
Akbar has filed a defamation suit against one of the women who have accused him of a range of inappropriate behaviour during his career as a journalist before entering politics.
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me in a personal capacity,” ANI, a Reuters partner, quoted Akbar as saying in a statement.
The #MeToo movement, which began in the United States more than a year ago in response to accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in the entertainment industry, gained traction in India in late September after the actress Tanushree Dutta said prominent actor Nana Patekar behaved inappropriately on the sets of a film they were shooting in 2008.
Patekar has denied any wrongdoing.
Since then, more than a dozen men in the media, entertainment, political and art worlds have been accused of offences, ranging from sexual harassment to rape.
India is traditionally a conservative country, where discussions about sex are still taboo for many and where women have long lagged behind men in workplace participation.