India

‘He forced his tongue into my mouth’: Woman who was harassed by Akbar when she was an 18-yr-old intern

Akbar was 55 years old at the time; de Puy Kamp was 18, and on her gap year after finishing high school.

On Friday, fresh sexual harassment allegations against Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs MJ Akbar surfaced.

In a report in HuffPost, Akbar “pulled in an 18-year-old intern, kissed her and forced his tongue into her mouth.”

Majlie de Puy Kamp was an intern at the The Asian Age newspaper in 2007, and was reporting to the editor MJ Akbar. Kamp was responsible for showing options for the lead photograph for the morning front page.

“These moments, where I would go up and give him the photos, were always kind of awkward,” de Puy Kamp said. “I would give him the photos, he would look through them and not say anything, and then do this head wobble over one of them.”

That particular day, as Akbar looked over the pictures, de Puy Kamp thanked him for letting her intern at his paper.

“He got up and walked around his desk to where I was sitting, so I also got up and I extended my hand.” de Puy Kamp recalled in a conversation this week. “He grabbed me right under my shoulders, on my arms, and pulled me in and kissed me on my mouth and forced his tongue into my mouth, and I just stood there.”

Akbar was 55 years old at the time; de Puy Kamp was 18, and on her gap year after finishing high school.

“What he did was disgusting, he violated my boundaries, betrayed my trust and that of my parents,” du Puy Kamp told HuffPost India in an email, adding that she met Akbar through her parents who had worked as foreign correspondents in Delhi in the 1990s. “He was my parent’s friend, he was supposed to pull through for me if I ever got in trouble while living in a foreign country.”

As per a report in Quint, Akbar is currently in Equatorial Guinea and is expected to come back to India on Sunday. Meanwhile, unconfirmed media reports suggest that Akbar might be asked to resign from his post after multiple women journalists accused him of sexual harassment at workplace.

Earlier, on Thursday, Union Minister Smriti Irani had said that women don’t go to work to get harassed and justice should be done with the women who have spoken up.

Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the firestorm of allegations against cabinet minister MJ Akbar, Senior Bharatiya Janta Party leader Subramanian Swamy said that women are not wrong in coming out on the harassment.

This week, at least 10 women, including senior journalists, have alleged that they had been sexually harassed by Akbar in the newsroom.

Ghazala Wahab detailed a startlingly violent account of months of harassment at Akbar’s hands.

A thread of tweets by Shutapa Paul, who worked alongside Akbar at India Today in 2010, describes a similar experience of being invited to the ITC Sonar in Kolkata.

Other women have shared similar experiences of being invited to a hotel room, only to be molested.

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