US-based, India born woman journalist and Chief Business Correspondent of National Public Radio (NPR) Pallavi Gogoi accused MJ Akbar of rape charges on Thursday in a long blog post. Gogoi is a former editor of The Asian Age.
Those before me have given me the courage to reach into the recesses of my mind and confront the monster that I escaped from decades ago. Together, our voices tell a different truth @TushitaPatel @SuparnaSharma @priyaramani @ghazalawahab
My story https://t.co/DG5dT7TEUU
— Pallavi Gogoi (@pgogoi) November 1, 2018
Gogoi in her post recalls how she became a prey of Akbar. Akbar was then the editor of the Asian Age and Pallavi was working under him as an Op-Ed page editor. She describes an incident prior to rape where Akbar attempted to kiss her and on another occasion, he scratched her face when she tried to fight him off.
Gogoi in her description writes, “She became the editor of the op-ed page at The Asian Age at 23. It was a big responsibility at a young age. But I would soon pay a very big price for doing a job I loved,” she writes in The Washington Post column.
“There was never a day when he (Akbar) didn’t shout at one of us at the top of his voice. I was mesmerized by his use of language, his turns of phrase, wishing that I could write like he did. So I took all the verbal abuse,” adds Gogoi.
The rape case happened in Jaipur where she had gone for an assignment in Akbar’s hotel room.
“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. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?” she writes in The Washington Post column.
“It must have been late spring or summer of 1994, and I had gone into his office — his door was often closed. 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 writes in her post recalling the very first attempt of MJ Akbar to assault her.
“What was worse was that after that first time, his grip over me got tighter. I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. Gogoi further writes that Akbar would “burst into loud rages in the newsroom” if he saw her talking to male colleagues her age. “It was frightening”.
She says she was “preyed” on despite finding outstation assignments as far as the US and UK to take her “far away” from him.
Recalling the last incident after which she resigned from the Asian Age, Gogoi says, “When I was a foreign correspondent in the newspaper’s London office, Akbar, during a visit hit me and went on a rampage, throwing things from the desk at me, a pair of scissors, a paperweight, whatever he could get his hands on”.