The Washington Post published an op-ed Thursday in which NPR chief business editor Pallavi Gogoi accused a top Indian politician of raping her in the mid-’90s, when she was in her early 20s.
In the op-ed, Gogoi wrote that M.J. Akbar, an Indian politician and journalist, raped her when she was a young journalist in India. In recent weeks, numerous women have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct as the #MeToo movement grows in India. Akbar resigned as India’s Minister of State for External Affairs last month.
Akbar denies Gogoi’s accusation, according to the Post. The allegations “are false and expressly denied,” Akbar’s lawyer told the Post.
Akbar used his position as editor-in-chief of the Asian Age newspaper, where Gogoi worked as a young journalist, “to prey on me,” Gogoi wrote. She detailed several incidents in which Akbar allegedly assaulted her. When she was 23, Akbar tried to kiss her when she went to his office to show him an op-ed page she had created.
A few months later, Gogoi wrote, she was summoned to Bombay to help launch a magazine.
“He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts,” Gogoi writes. “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. That evening, I explained the scratches to a friend by telling her I had slipped and fallen at the hotel.”
Gogoi alleges that Akbar threatened to fire her if she resisted him again, but she didn’t quit. A story took her to Jaipur, where Akbar summoned Gogoi to his hotel room.
“In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful,” Gogoi writes. “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?”
Afterwards, Gogoi wrote, she stopped fighting Akbar’s advances. Akbar offered to send Gogoi overseas as a reward for her good work. Gogoi went to London, where she thought the abuse would stop. It didn’t. Akbar “hit me and went on a rampage” when he saw Gogoi speaking in a friendly manner to a male colleague, Gogoi writes.
Akbar’s wife has defended her husband and said Gogoi and Akbar were in a “consensual relationship,” according to the Times of India and India Today.
Gogoi soon left London and got a job as a reporting assistant at Dow Jones in New York. She went on to work for Business Week, USA Today, The Associated Press and CNN.
“Today, I’m a leader at National Public Radio,” Gogoi writes. “I know that I do not have to succumb to assault to have a job and succeed.”
In her work at NPR, Gogoi has edited coverage of the #MeToo movement by media reporter David Folkenflik, the reporter tweeted Thursday. She edited the work “rigorously and fairly,” Folkenflik wrote in a tweet. “I never knew any of this.”
A painful, tough personal #MeToo account from my boss, friend and now hero @pgogoi about a powerful politician in her native India. She edited my #MeToo coverage rigorously and fairly. I never knew any of this. https://t.co/jxv9U5Tw6j
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) November 1, 2018