Protect the Privacy of the Tehelka Journalist: Report Responsibly

To all editors, journalists, bloggers, users of social media, and the public:

Some websites and blogs are posting the Tehelka journalist’s complaint to the magazine’s management or reproducing parts of it, perhaps with intent to expose a grave act of sexual assault by a man occupying a powerful position. However, in doing so, they are violating basic ethical and legal injunctions on the way cases of sexual assault must be reported.

The journalist’s complaint to her company is a private document and not a public one. While private documents can be leaked in the ‘public interest’, this principle is applicable to the emails of Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury sent to Tehelka staffers, not to the journalist’s emailed complaint. In cases of sexual assault, it is a well established principle that the media can name the perpetrator, but not the victim. The identity and privacy of a victim must be protected at all costs.We are distressed that many people are circulating the journalist’s emails, and other journalists, bloggers and users of social media are publishing it in parts or whole.

Some have argued that the leaked email has exposed the gravity of the assault, which justifies it coming into the public domain. While we are determined to report violence against women, we also believe in doing it sensitively. It is possible to report and comment on sexual crimes without providing explicit accounts that cause additional distress to the victim. While we stand behind the journalist in her courageous fight, let her choose how she wants her experience reported in public.

In the past week, the journalist has, through her friends, requested several times that her privacy and dignity be protected and that her personal email not be shared. Please remember that the woman’s private email may be used only with her written consent.

We request all users of social and mainstream media to refrain from infringing on a woman’s privacy. We request those who have posted such content to remove it immediately. Let us be sensitive as we extend support to the journalist.

Those wishing to support the petition can add their signatures by writing to


Arindam Banerjee, academic, West Bengal
Shaheen Ahmed, research scholar, New Delhi
Sameera Khan, journalist, Mumbai
Supriya Sharma, journalist, Mumbai/Raipur
Rohini Mohan, journalist, Bangalore
Chinki Sinha, journalist, New Delhi
Shazia Nigar, journalist, New Delhi
Neha Dixit, journalist, New Delhi
Supriya Nair, journalist, New Delhi
Tusha Mittal, journalist, Kolkata
Shriya Mohan, journalist, Kolkata
Sohini Chattopadhyay, journalist, New Delhi
Trisha Gupta, journalist, New Delhi
Raghu Karnad, journalist, Bangalore
Anand Vijayasimha, creative writer/musician, Bangalore
Vinay Aravind, photographer, Chennai
Shone SB, journalist, Delhi
Anand Sankar, Photojournalist, Dehradun
Sonal Shah, journalist, New Delhi
Raheel Khursheed, Director Communications, India,
Tracy Shilshi, Journalist, New Delhi
Clement Hnunpuia, Graphic Designer, New Delhi
Subasri Krishnan, Film-maker, New Delhi
Anjali Doshi, Journalist, Mumbai
Ayeshea Perera, Journalist, Mumbai
Niranjani Iyer, New Delhi
Javed Iqbal, journalist, Mumbai
gurpreet tathgur,mumbai
Seemi Pasha, journalist, New Delhi
Aditi Saxton, journalist, New Delhi
Adnan Farooqui, Academic, New Delhi
Cyril Sam, Journalist, New Delhi
Jency Jacob, Journalist, Mumbai
Rohit De, academic, New Delhi
Pradeep Nayak, Advocate, Bangalore
atul chaurasia, Journalist, N Delhi
Subha Wijesiriwardena, theatre-artist/writer, Sri Lanka
Raj Imran, Consulting research, Mumbai
Subir Ghosh, journalist, Bangalore
Harsha Vadlamani, Photojournalist, Hyderabad
Sushmit Sarkar, Journalist, New Delhi
Pracheta Sharma, Video Journalist, New Delhi
Andrea Fernandes, Mumbai
DVL Padma Priya, freelance journalist, Hyderabad
Poulomi Basu, Photojournalist, London and New Delhi
Anumeha Yadav, Journalist, Jharkhand
Sulakshana Nandi, social activist, Chhattisgarh
Sejal Mehta, Journalist, Mumbai
Pracheta Sharma, Journalist, Mumbai
M Rajshekhar, Journalist, New Delhi
Sreenivasan Jain, Journalist, New Delhi
Sarika Jain, academic, Chandigarh
Praveen S, Filmmaker, Bangalore
Aniket Alam, executive editor, economic and political weekly
Serena Peck, New Delhi
Sudhanshu Malhotra, Photo Editor, Greenpeace, India
Ammu Joseph, Independent Journalist, Bangalore
Aaron Pereira, Journalist, Mumbai
Sayantan Bera, Correspondent, Down To Earth, Kolkata
Snigdha Poonam, Delhi
Antoine Lewis, Journalist, Mumbai
Padmalatha Ravi, Independent Journalist and Documentary filmmaker.
Rupa Chinai, independent journalist, Mumbai.
Sridevi Sarma, Consulting – Research, Chennai
Sunainaa Chadha, Journalist, Mumbai
Shikha Malaviya, Poet & writer
B.R.P. Bhaskar,Thiruvananthapuram
Swarna Rajagopalan, Chennai
Prayaag Akbar, Journalist, Mumbai
Satarupa Sen Bhattacharya, Associate Editor, Oorvani Media, Bangalore
Meena Menon Journalist
Nazir Ahamed, The Hindu, Chennai
Anil Mishra Journalist Raipur
Anju Narayanan, London
Dave Besseling, Features Editor, GQ India, Bombay.
Nithila Kanagasabai, Chennai
Annalisa Merelli, writer, New York
Bonojit Hussain, Activist and Researcher, New Delhi
Manjula Narayan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Shivam Vij, Delhi
Indulekha Aravind, journalist, Bangalore
Amirtharaj Stephen, Photographer, Bangalore
Sharda Ugra, journalist, Delhi
Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
Girish NIkam, Journalist, Delhi
M J Pandey, Journalist, Mumbai
Rashmi Drolia, Journalist, Raipur
Poorva Rajaram, Journalist, Bangalore
Amit Kumar, Journalist, Delhi
Sukumar Muralidharan, Journalist, Delhi
Jyotsna Singh, journalist, Delhi
Nida Ansari, social worker, New Delhi
Amrapali Basumatary, academic, New Delhi
Soibam Haripriya, Research Scholar, New Delhi
Subhadeepta Ray, Research Scholar, New Delhi
Apoorva Gautam, Research Scholar, New Delhi
KumKum Dasgupta, Journalist, Hindustan Times, Delhi
Padmaparna Ghosh, Journalist, New Delhi
Isha Manchanda, Writer, New Delhi
Shilpa Ranade, architect, Mumbai
Prakash Venkatesan, Researcher
C Vanaja, journalist and film maker, hyderabad
Sania Hashmi, Film-maker, Delhi
Sanam Husain ,Engineer,Delhi
Aditi Jha, Researcher, Delhi
Kalpana Sharma, Journalist, Mumbai
Nilim Dutta, Executive Director, Strategic Research & Analysis Organisation, New Delhi/Guwahati
Debanjan Bose, Journalist, Pune
Anoo Bhuyan, NPR, Delhi
Sarah Hashmi, Actor, Mumbai
Moggallan Bharti, Asst. Professor, Delhi University, Delhi
Manoj Mitta, Jounalist, New Delhi
Balaji Kannan, Researcher, USA
Anjali Mody, Journalist, New Delhi
Tulika Rungta, Advertising professional, Kolkata
Amitava Kumar, Writer and journalist, New York
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
Aijaz Nazir, Journalist, Jammu and Kashmir
Geetha Nambisan, feminist, management professional
Abhishek kaushik, TOI Raipur
Bijoyeta Das
Joydeep Gupta, Journalist, New Delhi
Nivriti Butalia, Dubai
Ruchira Hoon, Islamabad
Mohan Kumawat, Film Maker, Delhi.
Kannan V, Kozhikode
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist and writer, Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi
Jeebesh Bagchi, artist, Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi
Monica Narula, artist, Raqs Media Collective, New Delhi
Aman Sethi, journalist, Addis Ababa
Nivedita Menon, Professor JNU, New Delhi
Aarti Sethi, researcher, New Delhi

13 thoughts on “Protect the Privacy of the Tehelka Journalist: Report Responsibly”

  1. Let the law take its course. However, the
    media may report the episode with due
    regard to the privacy of the individual.


  2. I have been deeply disturbed at the way the journalist’s name and the details of her email have emerged into the public domain and have landed in my personal inbox. I did not need to know her identity or everything that transpired on the two occasions that she was assaulted. That she was placed in a situation which caused her physical, mental and emotional trauma within the context of her work space and the obvious power equation at play therein was grave enough. And that I now seem to know more than I needed to makes me complicit in the media circus that has been transpiring the last few days. It has been all the more disturbing because I have been forwarded her email by several people who I consider thinking individuals and who, under other circumstances would be well cautious about revealing a complainant’s name. I am unable to fathom the hysteria caused by this particular event, especially within a network of people in Delhi who share social, intellectual and cultural spaces with the parties concerned. The feeling that “it is too close to home” seems to be paramount in the urge to circulate the journalist’s identity and her email, but has “home”, even as a social institution, ever been sacrosanct?

    It’s time I think to reflect upon the nature of the “progressive” and “liberal” spaces that many of us share and work in, our “holier than thou” attitudes, or our silences, our unwillingness, our sheer cynicism to confront what we know exists, to let it be, because ‘other battles are far more important’. Other issues aside, the crucial fact is Tehelka did not have a committee in place under Vishakha guidelines. That there are perhaps many other small or big institutions/organizations with claims to progressive, liberal and/or ethical values that also do not have such a committee in place is of serious concern. It’s time the Vishakha guidelines stopped being the last thing on the list, or a gesture that never really takes off beyond an afternoon of tea and biscuits. It’s time we stopped fooling ourselves that because we all value and enjoy several kinds of freedoms we will not or cannot jeopardise others’. Or if we are cynics who know “such things happen all the time”, then we stop being complicit in it.


  3. Signed. Barkha Kumari, Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad. Yes, the email does throw light on the gravity of the “incident”and is an important text for the journos to follow the case. But it’s a private letter where the journo has mustered all the courage to put down in writing the trauma she went through. All over again. Her sentiments have to be respected at all the costs. And, we ever-inquisitive media have to learn to refrain from some practices.


  4. Would like to put in my signature
    the privacy and dignity of victim should be respected

    Satyam Shrivastava
    social activist


  5. Solidarity with the young woman who raised her voice against sexual assault on her. Entirely agree that the media reportage of the reprehensible encounter had hugely faltered by sensationalising the incident.


  6. How do you report sites that are still carrying this kind of information? Please reply, I’d like to report a few.

    I ain’t posting them in the comments here, because they would be clicked by people reading and that would lead to more dissemination of private info.


  7. it is the bane of internet age. I am sorry to say I know the name of the victim, the name of her boy friend, seen her photograph and know where her mother lives in New Delhi. And i am completely unconnected to the media world. The profusion of details available on the web and the electronic media leave little to imagination. A female journalist working for tehelka and based out of Mumbai leave you with only a few choices. The sheer intrusion of the cyber world to personal space is almost bone-chilling.


  8. I support this. Wholeheartedly and desperately. The reality that personal emails of whatever nature can so easily come into the public domain is a terrifying idea that *should* be causing us to lose more sleep.

    Sudarshana Sengupta, Editor, Mumbai


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