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BJP leader OP Dhankar made a sensation when he promised the men of Haryana that if BJP came to power, it would get girls from Bihar for men in Haryana to marry. Finding women to marry is a big problem in Haryana with its bad and deteriorating sex ratio, with over a hundred and fifty less women per thousand men.

It is hardly a secret that bride trafficking is one of the ways men in Haryana are able to marry. Traffickers "purchase" women from places suffering from adversity - for example, last year's drought in Maharashtra saw parched people who couldn't afford water "give away" a daughter for marriage in order to be able to sustain the rest, even as the drought caused many local marriages to be cancelled or postponed. The consideration for such marriages often is simple. Does the place have enough water?

Such "wives", locally known as "molki" - literally meaning purchased - are usually little more than servants with additional responsibilities and routinely suffer domestic abuse, marital rape and abandonment for reasons ranging from failure to produce a son to ill health and inconvenience. They are often married to others when original families tire of them or shared by multiple men and eventually pushed to prostitution. It is a human rights problem and a women's rights problem and human trafficking is most definitely illegal.

So it is very worrying when a political leader promises a male dominated society that it will "get" women for them all to marry if voted to power. The party that rants over "doles" apparently sees no wrong in distributing women like a commodity.

What is more alarming is that beyond an idiotic leader appears to be a party that does not see this as a serious enough problem to punish spectacularly.

At this point one really wonders what it bodes for the future of India if a party that rally has no ethics beyond religious supremacy and "whatever wins votes" does not have supporters abandoning them even after an obscene election promise like this.

Is it too late for Indian women? Can they be promised away as election goodies and bring victory? Would that even be a win for democracy?

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The best and most important learnings are best done from the mistakes of others.

~ Anonymous

Detail from Cloister Conspiracy, a sculpture by Philip Jackson, pictured during his one man exhibition Sacred and Profane, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, Somerset. Detail from Cloister Conspiracy, a sculpture by Philip Jackson, pictured during his one man exhibition Sacred and Profane, at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, Somerset.

Considering how many women make mistakes getting justice for themselves, here are some quick tips for getting the scales of media justice to tip in your favor.
Step 1: Choose your court. Media or law?

Explanation: Cases drag on for years in media courts and justice is like a distant lighthouse - usually on the other end of the rocks where your ship flounders. Media courts, on the other hand love to dispense justice and live in the moment. 
Tabadtob insaaf!
Your case will be over within the week! If at all it is not dismissed on sight.
Read on. The following document explains how to apply successfully in media courts.
Step 2: Choose your assaulter carefully.

Explanation: Some groups of people do not commit wrongs. Other groups of people do horrendous wrongs. Therefore, it is in your interest to get assaulted by those who do wrongs instead of those who don't. And for heaven's sake don't accuse media. That will get buried faster than a rotting body in a mafia don's backyard.
Only exception is, of course media that has been declared wrong. Like Tehelka or something. Take your cues from ... never mind.
Step: 3: Avoid police stations

Explanation: Do not rescue yourself. Wait for someone to rescue you and force action instead of brazenly speaking up for yourself. Women demanding their own rights is what we want for our FUTURE... right now, unless you want your attention seeking nature exposed, you had best wait for someone to explain to others how you were violated. Plain fact of the matter is that if you are ashamed of yourself, great! If you don't blame yourself, you'll get blamed for seeking attention. I mean who wouldn't love people noticing their humiliation, right? So wait to be noticed when someone is free.
Step 4: Avoid proofs, remain anonymous

Explanation: Do not go to doctors while examination can prove the crime against you. That is the old fashioned "court of law" method. See the Mumbai Gang Rape of photojournalist. Proofs got her attackers nailed, but media mostly yawned once that part started. They recovered stones from Soni Sori's body. Thenga. The reason for this probably is that doctors and forensics professionals probably don't have the idle time to appear on talk shows, so the attention deficit media moves on to more affordable headlines like a grasshopper on cocaine. The key parts of the crime against you must be of the "he said, she said" variety, so that available panel experts can cover them, whatever they are.
Step 5: Most important - GIVE MEDIA EXCLUSIVES!!!

Explanation: You can be as wronged as you like, but the real key to getting media to get justice for you is for you to also give them something they want. Media wants TRPs. Media wants exclusives. Leave your suicide note in your bedroom, where reporters can get it from cops and cover to the point of hysteria. Try nice leaks that can be published as they are to avoid reporter overwork syndrome. Try leaking CDs of accusations. India TV will butcher your assaulter on prime time.
== Afterthought ==
What happens if you ignore these rules?

Don't be like Tanu Sharma. Who Tanu Sharma? Some attention seeker. Do you see her in news headlines?

Accusing media of harassment? The first rule of the fight club is you don't talk about the fight club. This is almost as bad as accusing Harish Bhatia of Dainik Bhaskar of exploiting female employees. Bet you didn't hear such blasphemy either! Are you crazy? No talking about the fight club. Do a Radia tapes on it right now. Raised to the burial power of a paid news report.
Worse! Facebook update as a suicide note? Seriously? That is almost as bad as a forwarded SMS as official resignation that even trumps legal contracts. Now if it was a Youtube video of a suicide attempt, perhaps it could be forgiven. Better still, a media only event.

Now they are saying Tanu Sharma needs psychiatric attention. Obviously! Why would a woman who works for India TV not *willingly* socialize with powerful people for money? You think they are running a media house or something?

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What really gets my goat these days is the bull in china shop approach to women's rights, which has a male dominated state and society trying to fix everything (sexual assault) - for women. I am a woman and I agree that there is vast gender inequality in India. I believe that women need to be empowered. I don't see our methods as useful. I have started calling the gender ghetto.

There are two lobbies in conflict determining women's rights that result in actions somewhere in between - usually what is acceptable to both. The "feminist" lobby - which seeks to create sensitivity and ease of justice for women - particularly for rapes. The "patriarchy" which would prefer to control women. Most of the women of India fall into neither of these two influential groups.

The feminist lobby (as per my observation in INDIA) looks to show humanity the right path - regardless of whether change results or is immediately useful for women. In less polite words, it is an upper middle class hijack of the female gender that appreciates itself and interprets "victories" against patriarchy as empowerment of women (which isn't necessarily true).

Patriarchy is on more comfortable ground. They have control and it is about managing so that no women actually get into bastions of power. The best way is to create luxurious ghettos for women, sold to feminists as special attention to women's rights.

As a result, there is an abundance of measures taken specially for women that do very little to change the ground situation. There isn't a single place where women can claim to feel safer after all the agitation, in spite of a steady stream of laws, schemes, special facilities, forces... Unfortunately, this doesn't cause the women's rights activists to pause and wonder if more of the same would be useful either. On the other hand, the special provisions cannot be made for all women - too resource intensive. So you create nice ghettos of women's rights where the loudest voices are - and keep peddling the idea that "something is being done". Unfortunately, Indian feminists ARE gullible enough to fall for it as long as their egos are stroked well.

Human rights as a special grant for women

Safety is a fundamental right. It isn't something that is a favor granted to women. Women only banks, women's credit cards, women police forces (more on that later)... You create a new breed of men who "know how to treat women". You have morally upright people criticizing social media abuse of women "Is this how you speak with women?", as though abusing men is fine... in the ghetto. I'd call it bubble, except it is really a psychological ghetto. Not merely isolation, but marginalization peddled as women's rights, confining women to "safe" spaces with "better" rights that "appreciate" them.

So, your pub going woman getting molested is an outrage, because that space is supposed to be safe for women - indeed, less "inhibited" women are part of the appeal - besides, don't the passes say "couples entry"? On the other hand, the woman getting molested in a seedy country liquor bar should have known better than to be there. Because, the pub is an official gender ghetto. Women are supposed to be in that space. On the other hand, the seedy bar is the "real world", where no concessions will be made to women, and they must know "men will be men" while walking in.

Put your hand on your heart and tell me this is not so. That this is not how your perception works too, even though you'd like to respect "all" women?

The problem is the same. Drunk louts harassing women or worse.

Any woman who has asked a husband, male partner or male friend to escort her to a dance bar (if you're around Mumbai) or red light area will attest to reason for refusal - or at least serious caution - being "it isn't safe for women". In spite of the dancers and prostitutes being girls themselves. Think about why one kind of woman wouldn't be safe in a place where women are the star attraction otherwise.

In essence, this is a class phenomenon, mostly limited to the upper middle class. Very rich people can do what they like to women and get away with it through money power or connections. Lower middle classes hover on fringes, knowing that this protection is very unreliable if the perpetrator is from an upper class. Lower classes get routinely harmed and no one gives a damn beyond stray newspaper reports or the occasional case that has enough TRP value to elevate the victim to a more deserving category of human.

The ghetto can also be layered and existing in the same place as the "real world". In other words, your pub goer getting raped will be news. A pub employee getting raped may be news depending on job (no sweepers, please), but if the woman security guard in the mall the pub is in gets raped by patrons of the pub? Forget it. Brief mention somewhere if at all. News item, not women's rights issue. You don't want unnecessary restrictions on the patrons of the pub over a nobody. It is the same reason that in spite of alcohol being a factor in many crimes and routinely in rapes, you will never find the elites bringing this up. You do not want to create an aura of shame around alcohol if you drink yourself - as a vast majority of public figures do.

Identifying a risk factor in rape is not as important as retaining elite freedoms. Not even as a minor caution point like - "Avoid being alone with one or more men you can smell alcohol on, as alcohol is known to reduce inhibitions. Particularly if there has been the slightest unwelcome flirting or sexually crude behavior or short temper." This gender ghetto is selective about risks it protects from. Only some are to be prevented. Others can be condemned in hindsight, as preventing will be inconvenient.

It is also an age phenomenon, where this insistence on safety is largely relevant to young women, but kids get harmed routinely with little protest, as do older women. So it is basically a phenomenon of nationwide statistics of enormous inequality against women used to give select women a carte blanche - which is also an illusion. It is given only as long as it doesn't inconvenience any of those with power. Rape convictions are overwhelmingly more from lower classes. No one has a problem with the nameless louts being taken out of the equation.

Feminism in India is not into hard wars. It prefers moral elegance and the high road. Patriarchy is not going to give up controlling women and treating them as primarily existing to serve the male will. Their interests do not converge on issues like domestic violence and marital rape. So we have some talk about it, but no serious challenge. The gender ghetto is that golden area where feminism and patriarchy agree and create a special safe zone where those who belong can expect safety to be their right.

Patriarchy prefers handouts to sharing power.

Patriarchy sees power as a male domain. It may be allowed to others - within limits. Misogyny actively seeks to exclude women from power. For the misogynist mind, it is better to give women a gilded harem than let them sit among the men as equals. Creating these gender ghettos works very well for them. Political parties having women wings with duties to support but very little control on party policies. Women only banks - even if they are not economically viable. Women's credit cards - why give them male ones when we can tailor features and cashbacks to define their identity with shopping, groceries and so on?

And of course, women to provide security for women, women only police stations... pitting women police against men who are highly likely to be threats to women, rather than create an overall gender sensitive police force. Risks to women were never the problem. The problem was complaints about it. This looks like a grand gesture. See! We gave women power to bring men to justice! Now vote for us please. Yet, do women only forces find it easier to deal with criminals? Why would bringing criminals to book be a gender issue? What are male cops supposed to do if they get a complaint of crimes against women? The same thing as the women cops. Yet, rather than increase the representation of women among the police force at large, it is more misogyny compatible to give them their corner to occupy.

Laws that "protect" women.

While women are overwhelmingly more harmed by men than vice versa, creating laws that institutionalize a bias against men does not help anyone. It is the legal ghetto. That sanctuary for women where they only have to name the justice they need. Of course, there is the "real world" where cops refuse to file cases - or worse to make them go away rather than exercise their rights. This successfully fudges the idea of justice for women, turning it into something that is specially granted for them in a very dramatic and unreserved manner, whereas the reality is different. Nor is creating a special issue out of the right of women to seek justice as generous as it sounds. It is the fundamental right of anyone harmed by another to seek justice.

In our grandstanding that wants to make sure we leave no space for any crime against women to slip through (regardless of applicability in real world), we make laws so unreal, that it is easy to show how a man accused of rape cannot be innocent short of an act of God - effectively turning a rape accusation into something women do that men have no defense against - when it is not true.

Consider a woman filing a complaint that she was raped a week ago by someone when they were alone in the office. Give me any possible way the man could prove his innocence short of proving he wasn't in the place at all. The man is presumed guilty - unless he can prove his innocence - yet, how does one prove an absence? It is a logical fallacy we have enshrined through reckless law making that only aims to deal out grand punishments without a view on the larger picture.

There is a strong motive to do this. To enshrine dramatic punishments as an exhibition of "doing something" to "fight rape". What is essentially a social problem - the inability of men to court women or take no for an answer - gets dumped on the legal system where it can reside happily, out of sight of a misogynist society, which is not required to face how it treats women. Naturally, for this, the law has to sound like it really knows what it is doing. Even if what it is doing is creating the provision to amputate a decade out of a man's life and reputation on the basis of an accusation he has no real way to disprove. A provision - which like India's thousand grey areas will usually be ignored and conviction rates will remain low at the discretion of judges - who must face their varying levels of conscience on sentencing a man for ten years on the basis of the crime described. Some misogynists will let all kinds of rapists go, others will let only a select few go, but the law if implemented to the letter will let no one go unless there is evidence of innocence. This is the legal system basically reduced to the level of a service for women to do anyone in. Non gender ghetto women won't be able to pull it off, because cops will simply laugh them out of the police station.

But surely it helps women? Even if it is an unfair service that caters to a few women, at least those women get empowered, right?

In my view, it doesn't. Judges who are often notoriously misogynistic will protect rapists for "small mistakes" when 10 year sentences seem to be disproportionate for an act that leaves no trace. Number of rapes on record will go high, but conviction rates will drop so dramatically that filing an FIR for rape will be rendered a joke. This will additionally provide fodder for misogynists to trivialize the act of filing a rape complaint itself, and it will be very difficult to debunk, because they will use the impossibility of proving innocence as their argument, even though lack of convictions will prove that "impossibility" false in practical application. All in all, a whole avalanche of controversial rapes will crop up, giving great boost to the feminist industry, but will lead to increased perceptions of danger limiting women, as well as increasing hostility from men once they start looking at cases. It will do a grave wrong to women whose PROVABLE rapes will now be further competing with scarce legal resources for justice.

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It seems we identify an ideal that should be, and start acting like it is fact and simply ignore what doesn't fit. We want uncompromising punishments and we also want every single wrong to be punished and we would rather a few innocents get punished than a few victims fail to nail their abusers.

Yet, is all this hand holding resulting in more assured women? More confident, more safe, more purposeful? Or merely more reckless? What is it that we are achieving, and how long is this supposed to continue and at whose cost? Why is it that we are choosing a hyperbole laden decision making process rather than something more scientific, measured and balanced?

Who will it hurt if women stop getting special favors and instead get their rights?

 

This is with regard to Vrinda Grover's facebook post as well as assorted defenders of Tejpal's poor, helpless victim, which I cannot comment on individually to engage in debate, so I am choosing to respond here.

To clarify my stand with regard to this case, I do not know Tarun Tejpal personally, have never even corresponded with him or Shoma Chaudhary. Maybe I made a few tweets to Shoma on Twitter criticizing something - I don't recall. That is the extent of my being "friends" with them. This blog has over a dozen articles questioning the media bias on this case. Not a single one of them claims that Tejpal is innocent or even says the victim is lying. My points are:

  1. I believe there is a concerted effort to present this case in a unidimensional and unambiguous manner. This violates my right to accurate information through news media.
  2. It is not respectful of my country, its laws or women's rights in general to rig a case through media in this manner.

I do not understand how it is a media trial to raise questions about an issue that was originally raised through organized promotion of selective leaks of confidential communication and judged in media. It is a response, not initiation of a trial. If a lie was told in media, it must be responded in media. The media supari tactics of hit and run reporting are not ethical in my view. The trial was initiated by the halo-dharis and judged in media and not just Tejpal, but his family and organization suffered before a judge ever saw this case.

That the original complaint that put this man in jail for four months mentions forced entry into lifts on separate occasions - neither of which are evident on CCTV footage is most certainly relevant to anyone following the case in media who knows it for a "fact" that the victim was physically pulled into the lift - based on the victim's own statement. Not to mention your oh so feminist media (it turns out wrongly) reporting that the CCTV footage confirmed the victim's complaint.

What is basically happening here is a widespread outrage about a media trial verdict of "guilty" being questioned - parading as outrage over "rape apology". I challenge anyone to show any publication with any kind of credibility that has called Tejpal innocent. I can show thousands that call him guilty. No one has commented on victim's character or such, but there is an abundance of coverage of Tejpal's business dealings, a comment made in another year altogether and more to create a perception of his character. So let us not get sanctimonious about media trials when all the "rape apology" that anyone has ever done is questioned the black and white nature of information actively perpetrated and aggressively enforced in public domain - incidentally information put forth by the victim's supporters or the victim herself - without redacting the victim's name, since we are suddenly fussy about these things.

Has the victim complained a single time that her private emails were distributed by someone who disclosed her identity? This is not just a disclosure of her identity, it is a violation of her privacy on an extremely serious matter - far more serious than a description of CCTV footage away from the scene of the rape - unless she authorized it. No objection by victim? Why not? She is fine with graphic details of her trauma published, but relatively ordinary descriptions of getting in and out of lifts - that do not mention her identity in any manner and in fact don't even mention the mild violence of pulling her in that she described? Who are we fooling here?

The CCTV footage has been shown to many carefully identified and selected persons in the media and other influential and powerful persons, by family and a close coterie of friends of Tarun Tejpal.

Well, why wouldn't they, if they believe Tejpal to be a victim of a massive campaign against him and have what they believe is evidence that proves his innocence? That the footage is not recklessly released, but selectively shown indicates (to me) that the intent is not to make the footage public, but to simply get the point out to the wider public that the allegations are not as black and white as they have already been reported - it is a correction of a public opinion and as part of the "public" who gets strategically incited to outrage, it is public right to know what our voice fuels. Or the whole thing should have been taken to court without involving public outrage as leverage.

This is in violation of the law and the order of the court. Yes the family has a right to defend Tarun Tejpal, but not by committing unlawful and illegal acts.

I am not a lawyer. Can someone explain how it violates law and order of the court? As far as I am aware, there is no gag on the case, other than the voluntary selective one by media. The family may have done it to defend Tejpal, but none of the reporting says he is innocent. This is more neutrality than the supposed feminists have been able to manage - that too in a heavily prejudiced situation.

I would like Vrinda Grover to explain how Tejpal's family has done unlawful and illegal acts, because such allegations have been used to deny bail in hearings.

The young woman journalist does not have a copy of the CCTV footage.

This is pathetic, Vrinda Grover. From Indian feminists fighting for the right of women to have access to evidence in their own case, the lack of access to the victim is being peddled as some kind of standard to deny factual information of a very public case being known to public. Also, the public has not got a copy of the CCTV footage. Only a description. Not even seen it.

Also, the victim may not have a copy of the footage, but the victim has seen the footage before her statement to the magistrate. She is not unaware of what it contains, as Vrinda Grover seems to be trying to lead the reader to believe. The victim changed some details from her original complaint after seeing the footage - which, before anyone accuses, I am not holding against her in any manner. It is common to be fuzzy on details after trauma. I am simply mentioning that she has seen it clearly enough to be able to find it useful for her statement.

I have not seen the CCTV footage. No one who has taken a public or private position asking for justice for the young woman journalist and demanded a fair trial, not prejudiced or overawed by the campaign conducted by the Tarun Tejpal gang, has seen the CCTV footage.

In other words, the whole circus gunning for Tejpal is taking the victim's accusations as fact and is not interested in any information to the contrary. For the record, I too haven't seen the footage and I too want justice for the victim. Only my definition of justice is not "What the victim says" but what actually happens in courts of law - which has been pre-rigged with massive media campaigning, so hope for my definition of justice is rather dim at the moment - regardless of who is guilty or innocent. The case has been botched beyond belief by the evangelists of "whatever the woman says" as women's rights.

We are not supposed to see that footage because it reveals the identity of the woman journalist. That is the law. 

I am a mere blogger, not a lawyer, but this seems like deliberate disinformation to me. Disclosing the identity of the victim on media is illegal. It is beyond absurd to say that those who KNOW the identity of the victim cannot see the footage because it REVEALS the identity.

Is the woman insane or merely trying to con the public into continuing to believe this "campaign for justice and fuck the law"?

For all those getting suckered into this crap, remember the countless interviews of victim's families, including reporters informing neighbours that the victim was raped because they were dumbfucks enough to want comments about her for TRP laden crap. That sleaze is unethical, but still not illegal till they reveal victim's identity ON MEDIA.

Yes we must debate issues and cases of public importance.

Here is a question I would like Vrinda Grover and gang to reply to. As a feminist, if you have supported a man being thrown into jail for violating a woman, is the woman's complaint allegedly being provably wrong in critical areas your responsibility to investigate and clarify your stand on or should a woman making accusations be supported unconditionally and exclusively always?

On each ocassion the friends and family of Traun Tejpal have orchestrated a media capaign against the young woman journalist. The entire campaign hinges on the 'young woman's character', which when decoded means the same old thing, her past sexual relationships.

This is slander about Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, the first bail was denied when the victim claimed to be intimidated by the visit of Tiya Tejpal to her mother. Incidentally a visit the victim thanked Tiya for on the night before complaining. The second bail was denied when Tejpal was accused of intimidating his Investigating Officer - incidentally, this is not recorded in either the investigation records or the chargesheet. Miraculously claimed only during the bail hearing and forgotten since. After that, the victim claimed that photos of her were circulated by Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, most of these forwards went to original recipients of the press release email leaks. I obtained one from a journalist and it turned out to be an image publicly available on the Think festival website. Now the cyber police are on a wild goose chase trying to find out which anonymous account emailed a publicly available image (that was later taken down) to intimidate the victim - must be Tejpal's family. Then you have the mobile phone found on Tejpal even though he was officially allowed STD calls at that point (got revoked after that incident). Then I lost interest.

Can you explain how these are "orchestrated media campaigns about her character"? I have been following this case from the start. First out of outrage, then when I smelled a media rat and thought someone should raise a counter narrative. I don't have many contacts, but I managed to connect with some ex-Tehelka journalists, Tiya Tejpal and some others. So far, the victim's character is not an issue I ran into in spite of actively seeking information. I still have no idea what her character is like. I know who her boyfriend is - from her own letter. So can you describe the method of this campaign and who its audience was if someone seeking information did not run into it? Or are these campaigns also like the photo intimidation? Circulating mainly among those who got original email leaks?

Is it a coincidence that these articles appear at a juncture when a bail petition will be moved for Tarun Tejpal in the Supreme Court.

No idea, but I can definitely say, accusations about Tejpal's family intimidating victim, disclosing her identity, breaking laws are being presented in time for a bail hearing. As usual.

I firmly believe that undertrials have a right to bail. However the jails are overcrowded with an undertrial population that is disproportionately POOR.

Right. Again that nice "feminist" concept of some people not getting rights being used as an excuse to deny rights you claim to usually support. Twice in one article. Not bad.

Where the accused persons can threaten witnesses, or tamper with evidence or use their position to cause prejudice to a fair trial, their liberty is constrained through denial of bail. We do not have a witness -victim protection mechanism that offers any real security to the complainants and so at times bail should be refused.

What is this intimidation? The victim claims a visit she thanked for was intimidation. An anonymously sent, publicly available photo was intimidation specifically by Tejpal's family. The investigating officer was "intimidated" by Tejpal. None of these describe any specific actions of threat from Tejpal or family directed at her. Though of course I am not naive enough to imagine these would be done publicly, but at least where exposed, they would describe how the intimidation happened?

'Going by the powerful people theory, let us assume Tejpal is indeed an intimidator with great power. Surely his being in jail wouldn't make the victim safer if he has "reach"? On the other hand, if he is out of jail, wouldn't it be one reason less to intimidate the victim (that is, if someone can explain how intimidation can cause bail to begin with unless the victim is the judge too)?  Logic says, intimidation will deny bail, not cause it - like Vrinda Grover is arguing.

Another problem with the intimidation theory is that the victim holds no power to free Tejpal. The case against him has not been filed by her to begin with. She was refusing anyway. Suppose she got successfully intimidated. What would she do? She can hardly deny her allegations as they are in writing in public domain as well as in court records and statements in front of magistrate. As long as the allegations exist, she can do nothing. What would intimidating her achieve other than denial of bail - which is already happening?

We live in a real world where power, influence and position, can and does manipulate and subvert and truth. It appears that at times these results can be achieved even when the person is in custody.

This sounds more like a threat than a concern, considering that so far, all the media trials have happened against Tejpal and with active role by mega news channels. The supposedly all powerful Tejpal has been unable to defend his rights at times (including visits by family, pen and paper or news media neutrality), let alone getting out of jail or sabotaging the case. Even the victim's description of Tejpal's daughter's actions were not verified with the daughter - in spite of the victim's letter saying that she confronted Tejpal on victim's behalf - before being published in newspapers that Tejpal's daughter claimed to have seen Tejpal acting in an inappropriate manner with another woman when she was 13. Something Tiya flat out denied saying. Her visit to the victim's mother was painted in media as intimidation without bothering to seek the other side of the story at all.

The CCTV footage is hardly the only hole in this mega justice story. It is merely another straw. What of the verifiable facts of the email have stood to verification other than those she herself told her witnesses? Tiya denies how she had been described in the emails. Tiya claiming innocence on her visit to victim's mother is supported by the email by the victim herself. Descriptions of pulling by Tejpal are not backed by CCTV footage in a single instance (to even be remembered wrongly) according to reports.

You think the public whose outrage over "facts" helped put a man in jail has no right to know the status of the "facts" that triggered their outrage?

In contrast, the supposedly intimidated victim has people either staunchly declaring she is the victim and Tejpal is guilty or at best saying there is more to the case than the black and white narrative painted in media. Yet apparently it is Tejpal's family manipulating and subverting truth. Maybe they are conspiring to keep him in jail? Strange, suicidal strategies could learn a lesson or five here. Like "how to get free accommodation from the government by breaking law before pretending to apply for bail" or something.

Even as the law stands by, as a mere spectator, indifferent to its promise to protect the woman's dignity.

The woman's dignity was paraded by her well wishers in media when they printed a distraught rape victim's potentially inaccurate and angry emails word for word and treated them as the complete truth needing no verification. THAT is what is causing the victim to lose her dignity when the narrative does not tally up, not any mega conspiracies. The victim was distraught, but her advisers and media exploited her experience for maximum drama, and when the story gets holes, someone is a spoilsport. How dare his family not let him sit quietly in jail and rain on our parade? If more holes appear, this vicious lot will turn on the victim, quite forgetting that the victim herself did not do more than a complaint within the organization and it was them that treated every word without verification as total fact because it would put a "sensational" man in jail.

The victim's dignity was paraded by her supposed friends who stayed completely quiet on the violation allowing a repeat and still staying quiet leaving potential for more repeats. The victim's dignity was paraded by the people who sent out email forwards with graphic details of her trauma complete with her real identity and email. The victim's dignity was paraded when she failed to register even a token protest of extremely private conversation being leaked to media - thus confirming that it was deliberate. The victim's dignity was paraded when her "well wishers" - ALL of them familiar with law, women's rights and procedures after rape either failed to convince her to report her rape and go to a hospital immediately to get tested, but instead participated in a media tamasha starring her experience. Who suddenly think description of CCTV footage is somehow more violating of her rights than her intimate trauma splashed across front pages nationwide that THEY FANNED WITH ALL THEIR RESOURCES.

Who the heck are we kidding here?

What is happening is an organized intimidation of any attempt to question an organized black and white narrative. This includes supposed free speech activists suddenly happy about Outlook and Citizen getting notices for reporting that breaks no laws, discloses no identities.

The sad part is the victim may indeed be wronged, and the inconsistencies with her complaint may be memory issues. She may be wrong in adding some details deliberately or inadvertently, but making an honest complaint of violation. Or she may be totally fake on the other hand (unlikely), But this is no longer about her. By taking her words and treating them as cannon, media itself has vested them with enough credibility and power to be taken word for word as proof of crime and inconsistencies will only highlight the difference between the reality being uncovered, and the one that is comprehensively enforced in media to the point of mere saying that there is more to the case is called a "rape apology". The absolute character media invested in those leaked emails will haunt the victim, because inconsistencies will raise questions on how unverifiable parts can be trusted, when inaccuracies in reporting are hardly a new phenomenon.

At the end of the day, the victim will be used as far as she is useful keeping Tejpal out of commission and ditched ruthlessly denied of credibility for a real complaint she filed because she ended up being held accountable for a media agenda and taken onto a turf where the charges were determined by media, the judicial process was brought about by the media, and the media doesn't lose. It simply moves to the next shiny headline. The damage to her case from media exaggerations/emphasis will be paid for by the victim in credibility.

As the election fever hots up, the BJP - seen as the front-runner across most opinion polls - is dishing out a campaign which is a heady cocktail of Hindutva and promises of development. Having comprehensively failed in 2009 when it tried to make the Advani-Manmohan Singh fight a personality, rather than an ideology contest, the BJP this time seems to have wisened up.

Though, like Advani, Modi's campaign too projects him as a larger-than-life figure, with the most recent slogan 'Har Har Modi' giving him the place of 'Mahadev', his PR machinery is usually quick to balance such outward expressions of Hindutva with something more palatable for the urban masses - such as economic growth. Most recently, the focus has now shifted to women's safety, which in post-Nirbhaya India is yet another urban buzzword.

While supporters hail Modi for the development Gujarat has witnessed under his stewardship, critics often say that his 'development messiah' image is an organized effort to wash off the stains of 2002. The BJP usually cites the clean-chit given to Modi by the SIT to rubbish such claims, but his image isn't spotlessly clean across all parameters. In the context of women's safety, nothing can be a bigger indictment of the 'Modi Model of Governance' than the conviction of former Gujarat cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development - Maya Kodnani - in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre.

One would imagine that the fact that Modi not only defended, but also assigned the WCD portfolio to a woman who later went on to be convicted of orchestrating the massacre of several innocent women and children, and the embarrassment that he faced in the Snoopgate scandal would make Modi a pariah when it comes to women's safety - but apparently PR, and collective amnesia around election season work wonders!

Not only is Modi not seen as a man who does not take the safety of women and children seriously, we are now seeing the emergence of a Ramboesque image of NaMo in this regard as well! But how serious is Modi about Women's safety indeed?

Let's give Modi the benefit of doubt and look beyond the Kodnani verdict though. Let's examine what he has done for the safety of women in Gujarat post 2009. Here, two prominent initiatives standout - both of them being helplines - the first being '1091 Police HEART Helpline for Women and Children' launched in 2013 and other being 'Abhayam Women's Helpline - 181' which was launched just last month. The focus of this post is the latter but before that let's examine the initiatives pertaining to the well-being of women that were present before Abhayam.

Gujarat, prior to the launch of Abhayam had already launched a widely acclaimed 108 Medical Emergency Helpline in 2010, which is run by GVK EMRI (which as the press release for Abhayam claims is also present in 16 other states in India). While 108 wasn't a women centric service, there were positive reports that suggested that the services were being utilized majorly by tribal women. Soon enough, Modi launched an additional service named Khilkhilahat which utilized the phased out 108 vans in conjunction once again with GVK-EMRI in 2012. And finally the HEART Helpline was launched early 2013. Between 108, 1091 HEART Helpline and Khilkhilahat, one can say Gujarat has a sufficient number of women-centric services. Which brings to the question - why another helpline?

One might argue thar Abhayam is merely Gujarat's installment of the 181 helpline mandated by the centre post-Nirbhaya. But that is where the question of whom it plans to benefit emerges. While the 108 helpline follows a PPP model across the country, 181 is essentially meant to be run by the State Government, as was the case in Delhi. The Government of Gujarat, on the other hand, adopted the PPP model in this case as well, by roping in GVK-EMRI once again. While GVK has successfully run medical emergency helpline services across the country,  the question to be asked is what expertise did GVK bring to the table with regard to women's safety? None at all. In fact, if insider information is to be believed, the development of the helpline protocols, and the training for the employees was outsourced to external NGOs and institutions like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences by GVK. This makes GVKs involvement in the whole project questionable.

While it is true that the centre had directed each state to introduce a helpline service for women, Gujarat could have done without one, given the numerous helpline services that already existed. In fact, even a cursory glance at the press releases of 1091 Police HEART Helpline and 'Abhayam Women's Helpline - 181 reveals an extensive amount of duplication of services.

For example, both HEART and Abhayam promise 'rescue in emergency situations'. While the press release for Abhayam states that it will be synchronized with the existing helpline services, it appears that both helplines have independent rescue services. While HEART is essentially a Police helpline, Abhayam's idea of 'rescue-officers' is rather vague. Further, the HEART helpline clearly mentions that the location of the caller is tracked automatically, regardless of the phone being used. Abhayam's stance on the same is not clear. However, if a service which purports itself to be a counselling helpline does track the location of its callers, while at the same time promising "that information given at the time of call will be kept undisclosed" we are heading back towards Snoopgate territory.

But that's not the only way Abhayam makes Modi's committment towards these issues suspect. While the helpline went live only in February 2014, recruitment for the same happened as early as October 2013 (see image). Insider information reveals that the recruitment and in fact the entire training process for approximately 50-60 staff members was completed within the month of October itself. In other words, the helpline could very well have been launched as early as November 2013. However this could not be done as Narendra Modi was on the campaign trail. In other words, an additional project which essentially duplicates a service already in place was delayed by 4 months as Modi was unavailable to inaugurate the service. What's more is that Modi himself did not inaugurate the service in the end!

While the BJP criticized the Aam Aadmi Party for the shutting down of the 181 Helpline in Delhi, despite Kejriwal's claims that he had sanctioned payment for the helpline staff till 31st March 2014 - one wonders how the BJP justifies keeping 60 idle staff members on payrolls for 4 months.

If one were to calculate the cost to the taxpayer for the salaries paid to these staff members for the 4 months they were idle, it works out upwards of Rs. 30 lakhs (the salaries for approx 60 helpline counsellors are believed to be around Rs.15000/-). While 30 lakhs is small change around election season, it is still a waste nonetheless.  On the other hand, if the employees were not paid until the helpline began, that would be grossly unjust as the delay was not a fault on their part. At the same time, while GVK-EMRI claims to be not-for-profit initiative, there is no clear information with regard to the amount paid to GVK for these initiatives.

Abhayam also has a bizarre age cut-off for access of its services (14 years and above), and initially will launch only in Ahmedabad city, Surat City and Gandhinagar District. The helpline however is being touted as a 24*7 state level free helpline.

While the intention is certainly noble, the fact that (yet) another PPP has been handed over to GVK-EMRI which has no demonstrable experience in women's safety, the launch of HEART helpline merely a year ago and the utterly limited scope of Abhayam - makes one wonder whether Modi is serious about Gujarat, or about the well-being of women at large, or whether the helpline is yet another pre-poll publicity stunt!