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.
Continue reading The Misogyny of India’s Cultural Elite: Kavita Bhanot
Guest post by Satya Sagar
Eight years ago I remember listening to Tarun Tejpal in Bangalore as he held forth on how the news media could change the world for the better. It was a gathering of journalism students from Catholic institutions around the country and Tejpal was impressive in his defense of media freedoms.
He was passionate, charismatic, extremely articulate and as Chief Editor of Tehelka- with some of the best stories of Indian journalism behind them- very credible too. After his speech Tejpal left in a hurry, like a star priest dashing off to his next flaming sermon and fawning audience. Continue reading Tehelka, Jhatka and now Tamasha:Satya Sagar
This is the text of the statement released yesterday condemning the attack on Shoma Chaudhary by a BJP mob led by Vijay Jolly.
We condemn the BJP lynch mob that attacked Tehelka managing Editor Shoma Chaudhuri’s house, physically jostling her at the entrance. Unsurprisingly, the BJP and right-wing forces in general have pounced upon the Tehelka sexual assault case to sweep attention away from the sexual crimes of their own Asaram Bapus and their Sahabs.
While Shoma Chaudhuri failed in her responsibility as an employer when approached by an employee complaining of sexual harassment within the organization, she is neither an accomplice nor an accessory to the crime of sexual assault of which the Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal is accused.
We also condemn the online harassment meted out to other women employees in Tehelka by the right wing brigade in the internet. Such harassment is only further evidence of the double standards of the right-wing forces who see this attack on the woman journalist as a political opportunity.
Sexual harassment and violence against women respects no political boundaries, and we are appalled that a party responsible for large scale violence against women should present itself as the saviour of women’s rights, and that, through a physical attack on a woman journalist. We recognize the distasteful political pre-election opportunism at work in these self-righteous stands by an ethically bankrupt party, and demand that Shoma Chaudhuri’s safety be assured by the state.
Arundhati Dhuru Continue reading Feminists condemn the BJP lynch mob attack on Shoma Chaudhary
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.
Continue reading Former Tehelka journalist speaks out
We write as feminists and activists in the women’s movement, disturbed by imputations of motive to some fellow activists who have spoken out publicly in the Tehelka sexual assault case. These allegations of pandering to the Tehelka management’s attempts to cover up the serious charges against Tarun Tejpal, have come expectedly from the Right, but also disturbingly, from sections of the Left, who interpret the insistence on respecting the decisions of the complainant, as disrespect of the law on sexual assault.
Many of us have been in the position of being confidantes to women who come to us with complaints of sexual harassment and assault. In such situations, we see our prime responsibility as that of offering unconditional support to the complainant, making available to her the largest possible range of options, helping her to take difficult decisions. Among these options is always the recourse to the police and criminal prosecution. But we believe it would be entirely counterproductive to insist that the complainant report to the police if she is not prepared to do so immediately. And until she expresses her readiness to move forward on that path, we try to build her courage to take that step, while remaining quietly supportive of whatever steps she does wish to take in the interim.
Continue reading Feminist interventions and the agency of the survivor: A Statement