- Expresses Solidarity with the struggle of the Tehelka Journalist who raised her voice against Rape and Intimidation by the Ex-Editor Tarun Tejpal.
- Demands fair investigation and early charge sheet into the matter, from the Goa Police.
- Considers Six Day of Custodial interrogation of Tarun Tejpal granted by the Goa Judicial Magistrate Court unnecessary and invidious.
- Appeals that police custody and the case not become a tool in the hands of BJP administered Goa police to settle scores with Tejpal.
Guest post by KAVITA BHANOT
Thanks to the brave actions of a woman who had the courage to speak out against her very powerful boss, something huge has happened in the last week in India. The very sophisticated, cosmopolitan English-speaking cultural elite of India has been forced, for once, to look at itself, to face up to the sexism and misogyny that it has long harboured.
For many years this elite has been protesting, exposing, judging, mocking the patriarchy of the lower classes – of the policeman, the religious fundamentalist, the ‘unpolished’ politician, the working class urban migrant, the eve-teaser on the street. But rarely have the men, or the women of this class, looked, in public, at themselves – the men examining their attitude towards women and the women thinking about their own complicity, the ways in which they have allowed or turned a blind eye to the misogyny of the men of their own class.
Neither the incident, nor Shoma Chaudhury’s response to it, surprises me in the least. In the time that I spent in this world, it became quickly apparent to me that deeply entrenched in the suave, cosmopolitan world of English language media, literature, art – were problematic attitudes towards women that neither the men or the women seemed to question.
Guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA
When I hit out at him, Tejpal stood there with a swagger and a go-fuck-yourself smile on his face. Butter doesn’t melt easily in this guy’s mouth; he was smug when he said he hadn’t run Raman Kirpal’s story on the mining scam in Goa (that he himself had commissioned mind you) because it was not good enough for Tehelka.
“There were no hard facts, man,” he said, his voice exiting his quasi-American accent in a nasal peeve, “just a lot of conjecture”.
He actually asked me whether I had read his magazine. Probably never even saw the eulogy I wrote for Tehelka, on that magnificent footballer from Kerala, VP Sathyan, who threw himself in front of a train at the age of 41 just plain bloody tired of being broke and ignored.
On July 18, 2006, when Sathyan, stupidly, stopped believing in the beauty of football, Tejpal’s star was in its ascendancy. That was the day – nearly a year and a half after Tehelka shed blood, sweat and tears, that the CBI also charge-sheeted former BJP President Bangaru Lakshman for ‘allegedly’ pocketing money from a fictitious armament firm and influencing a weapon deal.
That’s the ‘scoop’ that put Tejpal on the ladder – and just so that we all know what is what, people still don’t give a shit about VP Sathyan who in 1992 captained what is arguably Kerala’s best ever football team.
This is the full text of the statement issued today to the media by the gutsy woman journalist who refused to take sexual harassment as routine. More power to her and others like her!
I am heartened by the broad support I have received over the past fortnight. However, I am deeply concerned and very disturbed by insinuations that my complaint is part of a pre-election political conspiracy.
I categorically refute such insinuations and put forward the following arguments:
The struggle for women to assert control over their lives and their bodies is most certainly a political one, but feminist politics and its concerns are wider than the narrow universe of our political parties. Thus, I call upon our political parties to resist the temptation to turn a very important discussion about gender, power and violence into a conversation about themselves.
By now the details are well known: a young journalist describes a harrowing encounter with Tarun Tejpal, owner and editor of Tehelka, in an elevator during Tehelka’s Think fest in Goa. The description of the incident alleges gross sexual misconduct and bodily violation of an aggravated nature. Her description does not make for easy reading: it clearly demonstrates the incredibly vulnerable position in which young women are placed when confronted with the sexual misdemeanors of powerful men in positions of managerial authority. Indeed Mr. Tejpal says as much, that to cooperate with him is the best way for her to keep her job. She writes to Ms. Shoma Chaudhury the managing editor describing the incident and asks that she be tendered an official apology, and that Tehelka’s senior management constitute an enquiry and anti-sexual harassment committee as per the Vishaka guidelines. Instead what she is offered is a pathos-laden tale of fall and redemption: directed by and starring Mr. Tejpal, producer Ms. Shoma Chaudhury. There has been near continuous discussion across the web and the news and it can get difficult to keep track of all the various versions being produced on an hourly basis by Tehelka’s bullshit factories. So at this stage it might be useful to simply collate and compare various accounts. Continue reading The Tangled “Tonalities” of Mr. Tejpal
GUEST POST BY ‘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.
Listen. Can you hear it? That low growl on the horizon, coming closer, growing louder? It’s the dam bursting its bounds. It’s the quiet shriek of convivial silence being ripped apart.
The silence around the normalizing of a range of behaviour from the apparently casual to the outrightly violent. The laughing sexual innuendo; the misogynist jokes; the well-known ‘displaced squeeze’ of the upper arm, the shoulders; the repeated, relentless expression of romantic or sexual interest despite clear NO’s; the grabbing of the breast, the unwanted kiss, the out-of-town work trip ending in physical assault, presented as flattering interest; and through it all, the clear invocation of the power relationship.
You look great, Sir, retirement suits you, says a younger female colleague to a Professor visiting his former institution. Really, he smirks. Two other people told me this, and they are both women. What do you think it means? She smiles uncomfortably and hurries out of the office of the male head of the institution in whose presence this comment is made.