Two Women, Two Battles, And The Price Of Power

Amidst the MeToo movement, brave women worldwide shared stories of harassment. E. Jean Carroll vs. Trump & Priya Ramani vs. M.J. Akbar stand out, revealing parallels in women challenging powerful men and being resilient against evasion of accountability.

Oshi Saxena
New Update

Though justice may tread deliberately, the arc of its journey is known to bend, albeit slowly, towards truth. In two separate corners of the world, two women stood defiantly against towering figures of power, demanding accountability for acts long shrouded in impunity. E. Jean Carroll versus Donald Trump in the United States and Priya Ramani versus M.J. Akbar in India are disparate cases bound by a common thread of courage and resilience. Their struggles, though separated by continents, resonate in the universal language of justice, echoing the transformative power of the #MeToo movement.


These two women, standing oceans apart, confronted men of influence who allegedly violated their rights and modesty. As their timelines unfolded, it became apparent that the courtroom was not just a battleground for justice but also a stage where the dynamics of power and vulnerability played out with striking parallels.

The Brave Voices: E. Jean Carroll and Priya Ramani

E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle Magazine advice columnist, accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the mid-'90s, an incident she detailed in her memoir. Similarly, Priya Ramani, a journalist, accused M.J. Akbar of sexual misconduct during a job interview two decades ago, catalyzing over 20 women to share their accounts and sparking a landmark case in India.

The legal battles, though distinct in cultural context, converge in their essence—the struggle for survivors to be heard and believed, highlighting a seismic shift in societal attitudes and an acknowledgement that the powerful cannot silence the voices of the violated with impunity.

The Denials and Defamations

In June 2019, Carroll's story broke in New York Magazine, prompting Trump to vehemently deny the allegations, claiming he had never met her. Trump's denial, reminiscent of classic gaslighting, echoed the response of M.J. Akbar, who also denied all allegations and dragged Ramani to court on charges of criminal defamation.


Trump dismissed Carroll's story as a ploy to sell books, while Akbar branded Ramani's claims as "completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable, and scandalous." Both men, accustomed to the protective shield of authority, attempted to discredit their accusers, refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Despite Trump's vehement denials and attempts to discredit her, Carroll persisted, wielding her pen as a weapon of resistance. Through her defamation lawsuits, she not only sought redress for the harm inflicted upon her but also shattered the myth of invincibility surrounding Trump.

Similarly, Ramani's revelation of her experience with Akbar, veiled initially in anonymity but later unmasked in a defiant tweet, ignited a firestorm of revelations in India's #MeToo movement. Her refusal to remain silent in the face of intimidation and legal threats exemplifies the power of speaking truth to power. Despite Akbar's efforts to silence her through a criminal defamation case, Ramani stood her ground, supported by a groundswell of solidarity from fellow survivors and advocates.

Legal Maneuvers and Appeals

In both cases, defamation became a weapon wielded by the accused against the accusers. Trump and Akbar used legal avenues to challenge the credibility of Carroll and Ramani, making the legal battles not just about the alleged acts but also about their character and reputation.

The legal journeys were fraught with complexities. Attempts by the Justice Department to shield Trump and the prolonged legal tussle over the Adult Survivors Act in Carroll's case, whereas the Delhi court's consideration of witness testimonies and the transfer request in Ramani's case contributed to a protracted legal drama, both cases witnessed twists and turns, legal battles spanning multiple years, and attempts by those in power to evade accountability.


Parallel Narratives, Shared Victories

Ultimately, both cases culminated in victories for the accusers. Carroll and Ramani stood firm against powerful adversaries, and the legal system recognized their right to seek justice. The verdicts send a powerful message: no one is above accountability, regardless of their stature. 

In September 2023, Trump was found automatically liable for defamation, and on January 26, 2024, he was ordered to pay $83.3 million in damages, whereas, in India, the proceedings faced disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but ultimately, the Delhi court pronounced the verdict on February 17, 2021, acquitting Priya Ramani.

Carroll's triumph in securing an $83.3 million judgment against Trump for defamation sends a powerful message that no one is above the law, no matter how mighty their throne. Similarly, Ramani's acquittal in the criminal defamation case filed by Akbar reaffirms the principle that truth is a formidable defence against attempts to suppress dissent.

Victories and Ongoing Struggles

However, amidst the celebrations of these victories, it is essential to acknowledge the arduous journey endured by survivors of abuse within the legal system. The emotional toll of reliving trauma in public, the financial burden of protracted legal battles, and the pervasive stigma attached to speaking out against powerful perpetrators are formidable barriers that often deter survivors from seeking justice.

Furthermore, while these cases represent significant victories, they are small victories in a larger battle against gender-based violence and institutionalized oppression. For every Carroll and Ramani who find their voices and reclaim their agency, countless others remain silenced and marginalized by systems that prioritize power over principles.

Their stories serve as hope in a world too often shrouded in darkness, reminding us that even the mightiest tyrants can be brought to account when the voices of the marginalized unite in solidarity, marking a turning tide in the fight against harassment and inspiring more survivors to speak out and seek the justice they deserve.

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