Indian minister resigns amid growing #MeToo movement
India's junior external affairs minister who was accused by at least 20 women of sexual harassment has resigned, vowing to challenge the accusations.
"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," the news agency ANI quoted M.J. Akbar as saying in a statement on Oct. 17.
Akbar filed a criminal case against journalist Priya Ramani, the first woman to accuse him of harassment, on Oct. 15.
20 other women signed a statement offering to give their own court testimonies against him.
Akbar joined the government in July 2016 after a lengthy career as a newspaper editor in Kolkata and New Delhi.
In recent weeks, Indian actresses and writers have flooded social media with allegations of sexual harassment and assault by their superiors and colleagues.
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 actor Nana Patekar behaved inappropriately on the sets of a film they were shooting in 2008.
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.