Amid sexual harassment allegations against her ministerial colleague M J Akbar, Union minister Smriti Irani Thursday said it was for him to respond to the charges even as she favoured justice for the "ladies who are speaking out".
As the #MeToo campaign gathered momentum, some women journalists have come out and accused Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, of sexually harassing them during his stint as editor in two newspapers.
"The gentleman concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue," Irani, the Union Textiles Minister, told reporters here while responding to questions over allegations against Akbar.
Akbar, whose resignation from the government is being demanded by opposition political parties and various others, has not reacted to the allegations so far.
"I appreciate that the media is accosting his (former) female colleagues but I think it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement (and) not for me because I was personally not present there, Irani said.
She urged people not to mock the women who are speaking out against the harassment meted out to them.
I have said again and again on this particular issue, especially about women speaking out that anybody speaking out that in no way should be shamed, victimised or mocked. That is my only appeal to everybody who is witnessing this surge of outpouring of emotion, of anger on the internet and offline also, she said on the sidelines of an event here.
Irani, a former TV actress, underlined that women don’t go to work to be harassed but to work to live their dreams and earn a respectable living.
So, I will say here today it must be very difficult for women to come out and talk about whatever happened in their professional lives. It is extremely an important part in time in our society where more and more women are getting the support, so they can speak out.
"I feel there are enough instruments in our judicial and police systems to deliver justice and I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get, due to due process, the justice that they deserve, Irani said.