New Delhi, Oct 11: With the Union Government under fire over the allegations of sexual harassment against Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday said that the 'gentlemen concerned would be in a better position to speak on this issue'.
When asked by several reporters on the #MeToo movement which taken the nation by storm, Irani said there are enough 'instruments' in the police system and judiciary to deliver justice.
This is the first ministerial-level response on the matter pertaining to MJ Akbar. Earlier, Sushma Swaraj and Ravi Shankar Prasad had refused to speak on the matter. Irani tactfully handled the question on Akbar and made it clear that it for the MoS to speak on the serious allegations levelled against him.
"The gentlemen concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues... But I think it for the gentlemen concerned to issues a statement and not for me as I was personally not present there..Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, should in no way be victimised or mocked," Irani told the media today when asked about sexual harassment allegations on MJ Akbar who is currently in Nigeria.
[Me Too: MJ Akbar asked to 'cut short Nigeria visit', likely to return today, say reports]
When asked about the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, Irani said, "Women don't go to work to be harassed. They go to work to live their dreams and earn a respectable living. I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get the justice that they deserve."
Union Minister For Women And Child Development Maneka Gandhi was the first minister to react on MJ Akbar's issue. Gandhi had on Tuesday said: "There should be an investigation. Men in position of power often do this. This applies to media, politics and seniors working in companies. Now that women have started speaking out, we should take it seriously."
At least seven journalists have levelled sexual harassment charges against Akbar who has had an illustrious career in the media industry before joining politics.
First one to level allegations against Akbar was journalist Priya Ramani. After that, a number of women subsequently took to twitter and shared their own encounters with Akbar, accusing him of making them feel uncomfortable on several occasions.
Apart from Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Saba Naqvi, Shutapa Paul, Shuma Raha, Suparna Sharma and Prerna Singh Bindra accused the junior minister of sexual harassment over the course of his time as a journalist.