Tarun Tejpal: What does this case reveal about rape, sexual harassment, law and media?

Tarun Tejpal: What does this case reveal about rape, sexual harassment, law and media?

In 2013, after Tarun Tejpal, a former editor of the news magazine Tehelka, was accused of rape, several articles were published with headlines like ‘Tejpal’s Tehelka scandal’ and ‘Tarun Tejpal’s well earned money and fame, scandal has ruined’.

The media has given preference to such a serious allegation against a well-known and influential journalist.

This was the time when major changes were made in the laws related to sexual violence in India and issues like digital rape, rape in marriage, sexual harassment at work, women’s consent to make sexual relations began to be debated openly.

Nearly eight years later, a Goa fast-track court has acquitted Tarun Tejpal of all charges of rape, sexual harassment and forcible hostage of his colleague.

Many cases about rape, sexual harassment and media come out of this case which came in the face of great upheaval for the rights of women in India.

Strict rape laws and justice

In December 2012, laws related to sexual violence were reviewed after a case of gang rape and murder on a moving bus in Delhi.

The committee headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice Verma (retd) gave suggestions, adopting many of which changed the decades-old law.

In the year 2013, the definition of rape was enhanced with ‘forced pino-vaginal penetration’. According to the new definition, ‘coercing anything or body part of a woman’s body’ is considered rape.

Tejpal’s case was the first case against a person of influence under this new definition.

According to Kavita Krishnan, a woman activist and secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, just changing the legal definition does not change the understanding of violence.

After the decision, he said, “Over the years there has been a lot of backlash on the change in the law in the police and the judicial system, repeatedly such cases are treated as less than rape – molestation – the woman’s ‘no.’ Questions arise on the sound or the friendship that is already there is considered to be the reason for untold consent. “

The important thing is that Tarun Tejpal’s colleague never expressed his intention to file a police case against him.

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Video caption, Australia: women’s speech

Should the inquiry office or the police?

Tarun Tejpal was accused of sexual violence with his junior colleague during a big event of his magazine in Goa.

This incident did not happen in his office, but due to being in a work-related event, it was considered as sexual harassment at the place of work.

The Visakha Guidelines, set up in 2005 to prevent sexual harassment at work, were enacted in the same year.

Under this, every office is required to form an Internal Complaints Committee for investigation and decision on sexual harassment at work place.

In November 2013, the woman wrote a letter to her office informing about the whole matter and demanded an inquiry.

According to the amended Indian law, if a woman wants to complain of sexual harassment at work place, then it is her wish to ask for an inquiry under the internal committee in the office or police under section 354 (a) of criminal law Go to

Lakshmi Murthy, co-founder and journalist of ‘Network for Women in Media in India’, gives several reasons for women to hesitate to go to the police for allegations that they are deemed to be ‘non-essential or minor’.

She says, “This provision is the same way as any other criminal procedure, which can take a long time (7.5 years in this case), money and time spent (going to Goa for every hearing), Defense Lawyer’s team We have to answer questions, deal with media assessments, social media responses, etc. “

According to Lakshmi, this is why many women prefer to complain in the office under the ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplace’ Act, under which they can get other types of relief.

If the complaint is found correct, justice like leave, department or team change, manager change, financial payment and counseling can be found.

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Video caption, The girl who won the case against Google

How effective is the office The investigation?

There was no internal Complaints Committee in Tehelka magazine at the time of Tarun Tejpal case. The complainant had demanded an inquiry under this committee.

Rituparna Chatterjee, who runs the #MeTooIndia @ IndiaMeToo handle on Twitter during the #MeToo, an outspoken movement about sexual harassment, states that no data exists on how many companies have formed these committees in the private sector in India.

She says, “Over the years, change has come to such an extent that people now have little awareness of how behavior is wrong and may come under the definition of sexual harassment, but the intentions of the offices are still not to provide justice , The committees are either not formed or the members are not selected according to the law, or their information is not given to everyone in the office. “

In March 2020, in a survey on sexual harassment at work place, one-third of the 456 women participating in the journalist world said that this happened to them but 50 percent did not tell anyone about it.

According to Lakshmi Murthy, one of the authors of this survey of ‘Network for Women in Media, India’ and ‘Gender at Work’, the committee’s process is still not taken seriously.

He said, “If awareness is raised about this, it can be one of the most effective ways to change the culture of sexist, misogynist (degrading woman), caste-oriented behavior in offices.”

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Video caption, Women pay in lieu of domestic work?

Media Help or Trial?

In the case of Tarun Tejpal, the woman who has come to the decision, not the woman, the Goa Police, after taking cognizance of the information received in the media itself, filed against them.

Many newspapers, websites and TV channels had printed e-mails of Tarun Tejpal and the female colleague to each other and to the office without consent.

There is still an e-mail written on the Internet to the complainant’s own organization, which had full details of the violence done to them. This email was ‘leaked’ shortly after the case.

A news channel also showed footage of CCTV cameras installed around the hotel lift. The complainant’s name was not mentioned in the media, but her clothes, age, her work etc. in Tehelka magazine were discussed in detail.

According to Kavita Krishnan, “Without the complainant’s consent, printing his e-mails in the name of justice or showing the CCTV footage of the hotel is not to help him but to take away his will from him.”

The Goa government has now announced an appeal to the High Court against the decision of the lower court.

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