Up to him (Akbar) to respond… women taking big risk, difficult for them to speak out: Smriti Irani

Joining the growing chorus against sexual harassment triggered by the #MeToo campaign, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said Thursday that women are taking a “big risk” by speaking out and should not be judged. However, on the allegations levelled against Union Minister of State M J Akbar, Irani said it is for the “gentleman himself” to respond.

“Do not judge those who are speaking out right now. They are mothers, daughters and wives. They are taking a big risk and it must be very difficult for them to speak out,” Irani said at a FICCI event in Mumbai. Asked about the allegations against Akbar, she said, “It is for the gentleman in question to issue a statement. It would not be proper for me to comment because I wasn’t present.”

Akbar is the first politician among several prominent individuals, including celebrity marketing consultant Suhel Seth, who stand accused of sexual harassment by women who are part of the #MeToo movement that is sweeping Indian media, films and entertainment. Akbar, who was in Nigeria with a trade delegation and will be travelling to Equatorial Guinea, has been accused by at least seven women of sexual harassment and assault.

“You do not come to work to be pawed, you do not come to work to be flirted with, you do not come to work to adjust. You come to work to make a living and to live a dream. I never faced these challenges because I was very vo...

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