#MeToo: US-based journalist alleges she was raped by MJ Akbar

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 02, 2018 11:37 hrs
M J Akbar

New Delhi: The chief business editor of NPR, Pallavi Gogoi, has alleged that the former Union minister MJ Akbar — who recently had to resign after a series of sexual harassment allegations — raped her, 23 years ago, while she was working at Akbar's newspaper, Asian Age, as a journalist. According to Gogoi's first-hand account published in The Washington Post, Akbar first sexually assaulted Gogoi in 1994.

In a first-person account, Gogoi, an editor at the National Public Radio (NPR), has written about the traumatic abuse she faced in a column published by The Washington Post which has been dismissed by Akbar's lawyer.

"I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed," she wrote in The Washington Post.

That was not the last time Akbar made unsolicited sexual advances towards her, Gogoi alleges.

A few months later, Akbar invited Gogoi for a magazine launch in Bombay (now Mumbai). "When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down," Gogoi narrated the events.

Soon after the Bombay incident, Akbar threatened to fire her "if she resisted him again", she wrote in The Washington Post.

Gogoi persisted and continued with her work. She was soon taken to Jaipur as part of a work assignment. Here Akbar invited Gogoi to his hotel to discuss the details of the story.

"In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame," she wrote.

The sexual abuse continued for the next few months. "...he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. He would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw me talking to male colleagues my own age. It was frightening," she added.

Gogoi was soon sent to London where a particular incident made her finally put an end to the years of the ordeal she was being subjected to at the hands of Akbar.

At the London office, Akbar, Gogoi writes, was miffed after he spotted her talking to a male colleague.