Full Text Sharing

A few days back, when I accessed by email account, I had an email from a friend requesting me to bring along a few political magazines when I next visit  Nepal.  For the brief time that I have known him, his love for Indian politics is so evident that all I could do was smile reading the names of the  newspapers and magazines he had requested.  My smile ceased when  I read the name “ Tehalka” .  I wanted to scream at him and say  “ Don’t read it. It’s run by Tarun Tejpal.”

Tarun Tejpal is everywhere; on 24X7 news channels, in the English and Hindi dailies, on social media and even on Google.  For every Indian, overnight he has attained the status of a celebrity . Not that he wasn’t a well known figure in his own fraternity of journalists even before.  Ladies and Gentlemen, please put your hands together for Mr. Tarun Tejpal  former Editor –in Chief of Tehalka  Magazine.  Mr. Tejpal embodies everything that is wrong with the patriarchal mindset, not just in India but the world over.

 Tarun Tejpal  has been accused of sexually molesting a Tehakla employee on two occasions in a moving lift in Goa. Sexual assault  or rape is a heinous crime in itself. What Tejpal did  escalates the heinousness of this crime by mammoth proportions  because it has been committed by a man who propagates  women empowerment through his magazine and has been instrumental  in exposing  cases  of  sexual exploitation  by many influential men .  Clearly not the case of practice what you preach in so far as  Tarun Tejpal is concerned.

 Any sexual assault including rape is much more than the violation of the autonomy of a woman’s body. It  is about the male privilege of exercising control over everything that belongs to a woman, i.e. her property, her children, her rights and her body; the rights that a man can claim solely because of   being a male and then get away with it. That’s exactly the “much in demand by the Goa police”  man did.  First sexually assault a woman in an inebriated state , not once but twice and  then tender an apology calling it a “ Lapse of Judgement” on his  part and offer to step down  from his position for six months.My heart  is filled with gratitude for Tarun Tejpal for  acknowledging  that it was a” lapse of judgement”  from his side and for taking full onus of the situation. What’s next for him? Go grievously hurt a person  and aplologise saying he misjudged the situation.  I am amazed at the support that his “ owing up to the mistake” has generated.   I beg to differ and be the voice that says,  “ he has not been man enough by apologizing to the girl in question.” No man or woman  with integrity would do a thing like this in the first place.   Even if we agree, purely for the sake of a  thought exercise, that he indeed did a very noble act by apologizing , why then did he  contradict his statement once  it came to light  that the lift where the incident took place does not have a CCTV surveillance camera.

  It is no surprise that a society which exhibits deep rooted bias against women, every statement and action of the  victim in this case is cast with a heavy cloud of suspicion.  Panel discussions  are taking place on major national  television channels  as to why  did she take more than a week to file the complaint.  Even more hilarious is the accusation that the statement of the victim is politically motivated.  It is nothing but blaming the victim and trivializing the issue in the name of politics while encouraging the “culture of silence” that envelopes gender relations in our society.

 One of the common greetings in South Africa when roughly translated in English means “ I see you”. Such incidences would keep happening till we refuse to see and acknowledge  women as separate  individuals having  complete rights over  her being. No one, absolutely no one has a right to violate  her  at all.  Women , even today are packaged as  “property”  for men to be snatched and devoured  upon at will. We are not women friendly in our approach. For us,  sexual harassment is purely physical.  Sexual harassment goes beyond the uncomfortable touch.  It is when you feel  a male gaze at you, when a sexist remark is made under the garb of a joke, when your colleague makes an unwanted pass in his drunken state.    In short, it is anything that makes a woman feel sexualized and uncomfortable.

I am often told by people around me that the gender equations are changing albeit gradually. That  such deep rooted discrimination takes centuries to change and I must not hope for a revolution.  Change happens only when one dares to go against the tide and challenge the status- quo and not accept or mirror the reality. Every revolution starts with an idea that is the antithesis of the existing situation.  It begins with a small step.  In relation to gender parity it would begin by  realizing that an averted gaze means NO, pleading  to stop means NO, tears running down the face when the lips  say nothing means NO, I need to go means NO, you are my boss means NO, hesitating and taking a step back means NO. Back off , f*^K off , stop it all mean NO. Till this happens, I can only hope that one day there would be no need for any one of us to elaborate upon the various nuances of “NO” because a woman would be looked upon as an individual and not a sexual object which any male can claim at his will.   


Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.