NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing social media storm #MeToo and #TimesUp, where several women have come forward to share their accounts of sexual harassment, Congress president Rahul Gandhi finally broke his silence.
“It’s about time everyone learns to treat women with respect and dignity. I’m glad the space for those who don’t, is closing. The truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change,” tweeted the Gandhi scion.
The Congress president had refused to respond on the sexual harassment charges against Union minister and former editor M J Akbar.
“#MeToo is a very big issue and I will comment on that issue at a press conference later. I will give my detailed view,” Gandhi told reporters at a press meet convened on the Rafale issue.
Akbar, the Minister of State for External Affairs, has been accused by several women journalists of sexual harassment.
The junior minister has reportedly been asked to cut short his state visit to Nigeria and is expected to offer an explanation to the Bharatiya Janata Party top command on the allegations.
A BJP leader said the allegations levelled against the minister were serious but added that there were several aspects to it, including that there was no legal case against him, reported news agency PTI, without taking any names.
When asked about the incident by a reporter, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj refused to respond on it.
Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani on Thursday came out in support of women who shared their stories of sexual harassment at workplace, saying that they go to work to live their dreams and earn their living respectfully and not to get harassed. She added that it is for her cabinet colleague Akbar to speak on charges against him.
BJP ally Shiv Sena also demanded the removal of Akbar.
“As far as I know, there are five to six women professionals who have openly narrated how they were sexually attacked by M J Akbar. The details are worrisome and serious. Hence, I demand that he should be removed from his post immediately,” Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi frequently talks about ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’. Hence, in order to maintain his own image, Modi should remove Akbar from his post,” she added.
The #MeToo movement gathered pace over the last week with many women speaking out on sexual harassment at workplace and support pouring from various quarters.