My comment on Tehelka Rape victim’s statement that Kafila did not publish

I had made this comment on the victim’s statement to media published on the Kafila blog. It did not clear moderation, so publishing it here.

Because you are a journalist and feminist, I would like to ask you, would you recommend a victim of rape to release one sided correspondence in a high voltage campaign? Do you think it will help her interests? Do you think it helped yours?

For that matter, what is your objective? As a reader and someone interested in the freedoms and rights and empowerment of women, your method of going about this has been very alarming. This has been magnified by a media that carelessly chose to recycle your articulate voice rather than finding their own. You may be the victim, the entire media is not and the sense of outraged accusation echoing has created a very unbalanced story.

The result is that we are in a place where a situation having two signs is being reported as outrageous and used to imply guilt.

I cannot, of course blame you for the actions of others, but I hope you understand my concerns in the larger interest of women, when I say that this has alarming implications for them. It will not be long before people realize that something that wasn’t even rape a short while ago has not even seen the accused be able to speak a few lines uninterrupted to present their side. And this is not just limited to Tejpal, but Shoma as well.

I do not dispute that rape must be punished, but it creates a worrying question about what our right is to expect men to include women in workplaces if we cannot assure them of a fair hearing if an accusation is raised about them. Because we cannot deny that Tejpal has stepped down, Shoma has stepped down, an organization may collapse, and we are nowhere near a court of law yet.

It raises alarming questions about how honest a place of work can be with a victim, if confidentiality implied in her correspondence is shattered by her or her supporters to turn what was unquestioning support (that is the claim) into a proof of guilt.

It is a terrifying example of how a feminist who knows her rights and how to articulate them can turn media into an instrument of punishment using selective releases of information and defaults we have painstakingly established to create a compassionate audience for women.

I wish you well, but I cannot ignore the alarm in me that this reckless and extremely targeted campaign (I notice there still is no explanation for why the 3 witnesses who did not report are not accused of covering up as well) has set a very damaging precedent a lot of working women will end up paying for.

You may not have thought about the larger implications, and it is natural that you didn’t. It is complete media failure that media did not think beyond the direction provided with each release. It is unfortunate that apparently no one anticipated the glaring political bait in Tejpal and Tehelka being in a rape scandal.

This is a mess. And like you said, it will be a long battle, that you haven’t made easier for yourself either, if you actually expect justice from a court of law. If all you wanted was to bring Tejpal down, then that is good, because that has gone down well and I will feel better that at least some good has come out of this.

This comment not containing any abuse, I can only presume was edited for the views.

I will update this post to reflect if Kafila does publish the comment eventually.

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