Today calls for a celebration of victory. Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in the defamation case filed by former Union Minister MJ Akbar. A two-year battle has finally come to an end. Priya Ramani steps out of the court with a victory smile on her face.
For those who aren’t aware of the case, Priya Raman, a journalist, had written an article titled ‘To The Harvey Weinsteins of the World‘ for Vogue in 2017 that stated her sexual harassment story when she interviewed an unnamed authority. She ended the article with ‘We’ll get you all one day.” Little did Priya know that it would soon happen.
In 2018, when the #MeToo movement gained momentum in India, she publicly named the sexual harasser, M.J Akbar. Following her public announcement, 20 other women shared their uncomfortable experiences with M.J Akbar. At that point in time, M.J Akbar had resigned from his cabinet position. October 15, 2018, he filed a defamation case against Priya for tarnishing his reputation and defaming him for alleged sexual harassment involvement when he was a journalist. Throughout the case, Akbar denied all the allegations. Finally, after two years of battling against the system, Ramani rose to victory by making each fight count.
Here are a few important statements by the Court that every single person reading this article should know:
“Time has come for our society to understand that sometimes a victim may for years not speak up due to the mental trauma. The woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sexual abuse.”
“A woman has the right to put her grievance even after decades.”
“It cannot be ignored that, most times, sexual harassment is committed behind closed doors. Most women can’t speak up due to [fear of] stigma and an attack on their characters.”
“The Indian constitution allows women to put forward her grievances before any forum and at any time.”
“Even a man of [high] social status [standing] can be a sexual harasser. Right of reputation can’t be protected at the cost of the right to dignity.”
We shall end this article with a quote from Ramani:
“This battle has been about women, hasn’t been about me. I just happen to represent all the women who spoke up, the women who spoke up before me and the ones who spoke up after me. I thought this was a very apt judgement. My victory will definitely encourage more women to speak up and it will also make powerful men think twice before they take victims to court. Don’t forget that I was the accused in this case. I was accused just for speaking up”.