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A man who imposes sexual activity on a woman without any indication that she is attracted to him, in the face of blunt refusals or knowing that she definitely does not like him, is a rapist. But without this explicit clarity, there are a lot of grey areas where men and women can communicate very differently and a lack of consent is not very clear. It isn't as simple as saying a no is a no.

While we are willing to accept a victim coming in with an accusation of rape much after an incident she reluctantly consented to in has happened, we are less tolerant about the ability of the man who must judge in the heat of the moment to determine whether the refusal is something that will resolve with persuasion or violate. And the sensitivity of men differs wildly, much of it determined by individual life experiences - we do little to help men learn.

It is an age old debate - how much no is no when it comes to sex. There is a side that thinks all "No" is a dead end. There is another that pretty much refuses to recognize any form of "No" as being an actual refusal. Neither are practical. As always, the more adamant force is applied to a process, the less there is sensitivity to nuance. It isn't enough to simply dump responsibility for changing a status quo on one side of a difference. Particularly when that side is less vulnerable to the problem to begin with.

There are many shades of "No". To me, for someone to be called a "rapist" an important condition is that the alleged rapist must know that the other person does not want them - particularly in cases where consent has been implied till that point.

Consent is a grey area traditionally

Asking for anything is culturally stigmatized. Someone asks you if you want tea, you are conditioned to refuse. This is a relatively minor thing. But you are taught that politeness means you don't outright accept something you desire. The more intimate and high stakes your desire, the closer you play your cards to your chest.

For many "traditional" people, by the time a relationship is ready for sex, the moment for consent has long passed, because any physical touch already is consent in a society not given to casual physical touch between genders.

When a woman says No, she doesn't always mean it

Now consider the conditioning women go through all their lives, where a woman who is eager for sex is seen as someone less respectable. There are few women or even men who would outright agree to sex, even while they are giving all kinds of green signals otherwise. Remaining available, participating in increasing contact, "accidental" contact, remaining accessible for sexual contact - and even pretending to be surprised if it happens, till the elephant of increasingly intimate contact cannot be looked around - are all normal happenings in courtship.

People pretend accidental contact that they can back off from if the other person doesn't seem receptive rather than outright ask for sex. Rather than come across as forward or risk a refusal, they simply initiate and see where it goes. Because here is the thing, we also see asking for sex as inappropriate if it gets refused. Men become creeps, women become sluts.

And this is culturally accepted and immortalized. "Jaane do na. Paas aao na" is a sexy song that gave many men sleepless nights when the film Sagar released.

The whole duet is spent with Rishi Kapoor asking Dimple Kapadia to come closer and her refusing all the way. She refuses. Says don't touch me. I can't do these things, etc. It is actually a romantic song where both of them are attracted and in fact gave men an education on what an aroused woman looks like before the age of the internet! The film Sagar would be vastly different if Dimple Kapadia later realized Rishi Kapoor was a lousy lover and remembered that she'd been second thoughts all through and in fact, refusing. It would take an exceptionally sex-illiterate person to conclude a lack of consent from that song. And if Rishi Kapoor took those refusals at face value and didn't proceed, that would be one hot, frustrated woman there and Kamal Haasan would be one happy man. Never really understood what she saw in Rishi Kapoor with super sexy Kamal Haasan there for her.

This song is actually quite realistic among the masses, where there is a lot of intimacy that goes on under the cover of normalcy or even expressed disinterest without actual prevention till the relationship reaches a point of inevitability. It is vulnerability in a judgmental world. It is hard to talk about budding feelings in the bright light of day. Not many can do it. I doubt if even among the feminists there would be very many who can claim to have explicitly spoken of attraction and a desire to initiate a sexual relationship before intimacy.

Is it wrong? Only if you think communication is strictly verbal. But there are fifty kinds of non-verbal signals that are freely given. Spending more time exclusively with someone, standing closer to them than others, casual affectionate physical touch not shared with others... it all communicates consent in a language beyond words and paves the way for more.

But there are far more mundane reasons for blurred consent. Refusals that have nothing to do with sexual willingness, but are related to other factors - for example, tired - which often change with seduction. Or a risk of discovery - which can change a refusal into flat out excitement for some, depending on how aroused they are. They can also be deeply distressing, even with a regular and beloved partner if a woman does not find the risk of discovery exciting.

Whether to persuade and get a phenomenally hot sexual experience or to respect an area of discomfort? This needs education on sensitivity and communication that cannot be plastered over with "no is no".

Traditional and biological sexual factors add confusion

Then there is a further complication. Sexually, men often enjoy the "chase" and women often enjoy being overruled on consent - when they feel safe. That men enjoy the chase shouldn't be that hard to infer from the very troublesome manifestation of sexual harassment. It is predatory behavior. The harassment is where women are clearly not on the same page - because women do require to establish trust and a catcall or grope isn't exactly it. There are a few women who feel flattered by catcalls even if they would not admit it openly. The feeling of being publicly desirable. They often are also those who place high value on male approval overall. While they may not openly enjoy it, you can get that insight in indirect ways - for example when they speak of disparage women as someone who wouldn't turn heads or wouldn't be harassed or molested or raped because they aren't attractive, etc. Where they clearly see unsolicited approaches as a mark of desirability, even though respectability demands that they cannot be known to enjoy it.

I once knew a girl nicknamed Sexy in our friends circle and while she acted all protesting about a nickname that sounded like a sleazy catcall, she would be the one to tell people who didn't know what her nickname was!

There is also a fundamental difference in how men and women interpret intimate conversations that create misunderstandings. Men generally do not speak of intimate physical experiences with the ease women do. Just look at the number of open discussions about menstruation or female sexuality on social media and compare them with how many times you have seen men talk about their penises at all. Men reserve personal talk to extremely confidential relationships - if they talk about intimate issues at all. An intimate subject being discussed conveys extreme trust to men, while women happily talk about intimate subjects even on public forums.

Very often a woman's candid talk can imply an intimacy she does not mean to men, particularly men who are not very familiar with casual interaction with women and don't know that this is normal for women. Something I always advise inexperienced young women is to not share one on one conversations involving features of your/his body with men you aren't interested in. It doesn't mean the same thing to them as it does to you. Of course, there will be individual exceptions, but the norm is broad enough to be useful insight.

A verbal refusal or protest can come from anywhere from an actual refusal to hesitation to commit to stating desire. And there can often be contradictory messages in behavior, with the non-verbal message often being the more accurate of the two.

Some women fantasize about being overpowered

One of the strongest endorsements of consent comes from BDSM, which allows for a safe word to call a halt to the sexual activity - ironically, often criticized for "cruelty". And the safe word actually can allow for erotic sexual play that involves refusing sex and the refusal being overruled if the safe word is not used. How could enslavement, pain being inflicted be desired? Obviously, the consent being explicitly moved to the safe word ensures that this isn't rape, but it definitely is rape fantasy if the play explores areas of consent being overruled.

Increase of women viewers of porn and a lot of outspokenness about porn and terms like feminist porn coming up have not led to any discernable change in standard porn content. So the increased number of women appear to be fine watching erotic content that is criticized from a feminist perspective for being disrespectful about women? For objectifying them, for not holding consent in higher esteem? Women too watch that and get off on it?

Actual research done in this area (led by a woman) shows startling results: 52% of the women had fantasies about forced sex by a man: 32% had fantasies about being raped by a man: 28% - forced oral sex by a man: 16% - forced anal sex: 24% - incapacitated: 17% - forced sex by a woman: 9% - raped by a woman: 9% - forced oral sex by a woman. Overall, 62% reported having had at least one of these fantasies.

Does a woman's response to a dominating man convey mixed messages? Is it possible that men either instinctively or from experience experiment with overruling consent as a part of sexual play? It certainly seems possible if one were to look at such data. There is plenty more research on rape fantasies, for the interested. No point derailing into all that. Particularly since fantasies are not consent for reality.

The man must be made aware of an unambiguous refusal

In my view, because of all these reasons, it is not enough to say "no" and pretend sexual interest did not happen, there is a need to ensure that the "No" is communicated. A man must be made aware of an unambiguous "no" and women must be educated about conveying it. Being willing to a point and then refusing, only to capitulate with some persuasion makes it very difficult to differentiate between a refusal that is momentary and overcome with persuasion and an actual refusal with further sex happening against the consent of the woman.

A common reason to capitulate is because the woman values the presence of the man in her life even though she doesn't want sex. She doesn't want him to turn to someone else. Sad though it may be, it is a hard choice, but a choice must be made with responsibility. Agreeing to sex but holding it against him is not ethical. It is also important to understand that once the genie of sex is out of the bottle, your relationship is not going to return to the comfort zone easily - if at all ever.

Not so hard to understand if men and women are BOTH people

Let us reverse the roles for a bit to make it easier to understand. If men seem more eager than women to seek sex, women can want sex for far longer than men, because biology. Women do pressurize no-longer-interested men into sex. Is a man who grumbles about it after being seduced into participating again a rape victim? Technically, yes. If we are talking of consent as a moment by moment thing where changing your mind on sexual interest is a right, a man who rolls over and falls asleep should be protected from the still horny woman.

In reality? It will be quite a few nights like this before a responsible lover learns to get his partner off first before racing for the finish line or the woman learns to insist on it. Without that pressure, he will never learn. In any case, a man can't be raped as per Indian law. He is this mythical creature who always wants sex, so there is no question of lack of consent - and countless relatively inexperienced partners of sexually active women will attest to the fact that they do get pushed beyond their comfort zone. If a woman is under social pressure of the male gender, the man's entire masculinity and existence as a man can be at stake in such moments. A man who can't "perform" on demand is a most embarrassing thing in terms of social conditioning.

A rather headstrong teenager slapped her lover awake when he fell asleep after climaxing while she was still horny and frustrated. Embarrassed at having fallen asleep and intimidated by her fury, he fumbled his way through that night and broke off with her the next morning, by which time she was horrified and embarrassed by her own behavior. "You can't force me" were his exact words, repeated over and over through the conversation.

She kept apologizing and begging him to forgive her. She had thought he had lost interest in her - as in he dumped her after sex. It was rape all the same - technically. A more humane term would be a learning experience for both of them. Neither of them were aware of crucial factors beyond their own experience. The girl didn't have an idea that men can need temporary time out after a climax. The man was not aware that women climax at all.

If a horny and clueless teenager can do this, an adult experienced woman can definitely pressure a man into "performing" beyond his endurance with a lot more expertise and knowing exactly how to do it. Not all men have the sexual resilience or skill to ensure that a woman also finds each sexual encounter satisfying. Till they learn, it can be extremely high pressure to deliver sex long after they have maxed out or more often than they are sexually able. One day it will make them better lovers. Or it may simply lead to a horrible sexual relationship they hopefully escape some day.

If we insist on reluctant agreements under pressure being up for evaluation as rape in hindsight, then we have to begin with the ethical stand that men too can be raped in this manner - are we willing to do that? Is it ethical to consider consent under pressure as rape only for women? Also, is it correct to blame a man for rape if there is consent under pressure even, unless there is an explicit threat or unfair pressure knowingly applied by the man? Can a man know all the factors that will run through a woman's mind before she agrees in order to know that the consent is not freely given?

There has to be some point where we have to take consent/participation at face value and it is the responsibility of each person in an adult interaction to make their peace with their choices. And to give consent with awareness of its implication and refuse it if not okay with it.

Saying NO and making it stick

Both men and women would be served better by widespread awareness of tools like safe words and emphatic "NOs" without mixed messages - where a refusal is a flat out refusal and no persuasion is welcome that leave absolutely no room for misinterpretation. This is important for both responsible adult communication as well as practical safety for women.

To say no, but continue other intimate touching, or remain accessible for further touch or escalate "I really like you, but..." type emotionally laden conversations, sends a mixed message that is very commonly interpreted as yes. If that is your intention, fantastic. I encourage you to attempt an eager "yes", because any responsible lover will wait for you to get there. If you are undecided, it is better to voice that and explicitly state a temporarily refusal or "find out as we go along" type consent so that the man knows to check for your comfort, than give mixed messages that can take the situation outside your comfort zone rapidly or to blindside with a refusal. This is the honest communication - stating your status clearly. Of course, if you've been yes till something turns you off, blindsiding cannot be helped.

The most important thing to educate people on is that they are not responsible for disappointing those interested in them gently at the cost of their own well being. If they are not interested in being intimate with someone, it is best to do a flat out NO. Alternative intimacy will neither satisfy an interested wo/man, nor will it convey a refusal. It will convey that you are interested in them, not yet enough for sex, but you're open to possibilities. Such possibilities will almost inevitably be explored, because such is the nature of horniness - it seeks a climax. Ironically, the chances of getting consensually laid in the future improve vastly in borderline situations if you can disengage and take care of your horny solo without imposing it on anyone before they are ready.

A person coerced into sex against his/her will has been wronged. But it does not follow that the wrong was deliberate unless that is also established. Sometimes bad judgment is just that. Sucks and wrong, but not a crime.

Nothing short of a climax satisfies a horny person. If that is not what you want, the best and kindest thing you can do for all concerned is to flat out refuse and stop all interaction. If you are not able to do this, you need to ask yourself what you are achieving by prolonging the risk.... and address it appropriately rather than slide into compliance. It is appropriate to be hostile instead of placatory when you want to push someone away. The fewer grey areas in such refusals, the fewer the mixed messages.

If there is structural or social power being exploited to take coerce someone, then the process of "NO" must also involve informing the structure of the exploitation of the power granted by it. Whether it is informing an organization about the inappropriate advance or a friend's circle about the camaraderie of a trusted group being misused to prey on someone. This vastly reduces the pressure on the target. It also allows for protective actions by others, like ensuring that the two are not left alone.

This needs to be a part of sex education.

apologies for the long read - it is a rough chapter from a book I'm writing. Was not able to shorten it gracefully.

5

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. ~ Anatole France

Rights, like laws are determined by the powerful to address problems they face or allow actions they prefer and apply "equally" to all. These also happen to be those unlikely to prevent them from acting as they wish.

We seem to have reached an era where we "harvest" the power of hard won rights to ensure unfettered freedoms for some, while the most dangerous instances of suppressed rights continue to go under the radar.

To me, Charlie Hebdo appeared to be among such instances before the attack. Its right to free speech was largely protected by both laws and culture. There was little question of it not being allowed to have its range of free speech and that speech (in my opinion) was squandered on making a point of being offensive in a juvenile manner. I had earlier promised to publish the offensive cartoons (without seeing them) - regardless of Indian laws on the matter as a statement against violent and extra-judicial suppression of free speech. However, after seeing them, I am forced to limit myself to writing, as I honestly couldn't find anything funny about a star coming out of an ass - for example. My five year old son probably would (he even thinks farts are hilarious and breaks out laughing every time he hears one), but he doesn't blog here yet. Regardless, there is no question that free speech includes the right to be offensive as well as juvenile.

On another level, I am reminded of two recent rape cases to hit media courts - but not courts of law till the state took suo moto action in one. Both cases saw women well versed with women's rights and procedures and law after rape make no attempt to comply with the law by promptly undergoing medical tests or filing police cases. Both these women were unhesitatingly supported by more women's rights activists, lawyers and journalists, and yet the only action taken was public leaks of accusations that resulted in media character assassination campaigns that protected the identity of the victim and unquestioningly published accusations as fact in the manner of press releases and left no room for the accused to even speak in their own favor.

What I find common to both instances is empowered entities having full knowledge of their rights and using them to maximum effect, exercising their freedoms with little responsibility beyond knowing own rights.

In a world where battered and bleeding women showing monumental courage walking into police stations to file rape charges get denied, in a world where states silence dissent or target communities on the basis of identity, to exercise rights in a manner that flaunts their potential to hurt innocents has a very predictable backlash that questions the necessity of the right to exist at all without limitations.

The more insults are heaped on religion for the sheer joy of insulting, the more are voices disturbed by indiscriminate hurt caused demanding a leash. The more women flaunt the unequal protections granted to protect the voiceless many women routinely denied justice, the more misogynists claim that women use the law to punish men and there are few cases of real justice. It also seems a bit farcical to me to claim massive trauma from a fleeting incident the victim did not attempt to avoid a repeat of, in a country where marital rape (often painful and repeated) is not just common but perfectly legal and the women continue to function, while living within easy reach of their rapists (who enjoy complete impunity) without any crippling trauma recognizable to outrage brigades. It is also a country where no particular effort is visible to insist on justice for cases that are not young professional women, low caste, outside cities (particularly Delhi) and so on. And cases are cherry picked to be sensitive to, with little uniformity of importance for cases across the spectrum the crime covers.

Similarly, we see targeting for race as wrong, so why is targeting for religion a right? Similarly, in France, why is banning of specific headgear only for Muslim women wrong, but ridiculing the religion right? It is hardly a secret that your free speech won't extend to pedophilia - even if the pedophile is staunchly against child rape and insists on consent. Who went and decided that children don't have the free speech to consent to sex? For that matter, why are violent rape porn or child rape porn CARTOONS illegal, when obviously no one got harmed in making them? Why is a person who praises the attack on Charlie Hebdo or defends it "supporting terrorism" as opposed to merely exercising free speech to express an opinion? Is it that there is someone sitting up there deciding what should offend us and what shouldn't? Is it that this "righteous offense" is determined unilaterally by some entity that is no more accepting of "free speech" than a religious person, but remains unquestioned? Will we some day see a cartoon ridiculing someone who demands a ban on child rape porn cartoons? Yes these examples are "offensive" - we are discussing a right to offend, right?

This is not to say that exercising rights is wrong. It cannot be wrong and must never be leashed. However, there appears to be disproportionate utility or access to rights that is troubling.

For example, another way the Charlie Hebdo attack reminded me of rape was the motive for the crime being "provocation".

There is a perpetual conservative response that blames the victim and recommends not offending. In effect, creating a right to be offended. On the other hand, the offense being social, the mere upholding of rights does little to prevent unjust and illegal retaliation. Those at risk must strike their own balance between continuing to enjoy their rightful freedoms and exercising caution. Regardless of who is at fault, it is the life of the victim that ends up devastated or lost altogether. There is bravery in bold stands, but there is nothing wrong with installing a phone app that allows you to instantly broadcast an SOS - for example.

Less discussed is the willingness to risk the safety of another. Just because a woman should have the right to travel in the city alone at all hours (and you would do it as a ringing statement of your freedom), would you ask a woman employee or relative to travel alone at night in .... Delhi - for example? I suspect the day is not far that publishers of content that can trigger a violent backlash will consider the potential risk of the editorial stance to employees or others tasked to protecting their lives.

While even empowered women are long used to compromising freedoms for safety and finding ways to exercise rights when they really matter rather than making risk a way of life regardless of importance of goal; the question of free speech remains stuck on absolutes that depend on the world comprehending specific ideals and respecting them. This is not a criticism of any choice - they are all our right and our safety is our right regardless.

There is also a need to include more voices on what we agree on as rights. While I believe that free speech and particularly the right to challenge entrenched bastions of authority (including government and religion) must be sacrosanct, my belief in democracy also forces me to accept that like any other participant in a democracy, I have no special right to have my specific preferences met and those contradicting it, overruled. I would rather prefer to dig in my heels on those saving lives and rights. I also believe it is more important that free speech or women's rights (or indeed any other rights - women's rights is just an example) not be trivialized in a manner that shakes popular support to crucial, life and death need. In my eyes, the need to prevent the suppression of expression of religious belief through attire trumps the need to allow juvenile, racist crudery that effectively deems large swathes of humanity as inferior. In my eyes, it is more important that Saudi Arabia flogging a blogger be fought - with international pressure, if need be; than the right to stereotype and demean people.

I don't dispute that these are rights and can and will be exerted in a whole range of ways that will be as diverse as there are people. What I am suggesting is that uniformity and equality demands that we understand the variations in urgency and ensure basic rights and freedoms more equally before allowing free rein to a few disproportionate voices. Perhaps there is also a question of why some kinds of radicalization is unacceptable while other kinds of radicalization are free speech. After all, having a near cult following for juvenile insults to all sorts of diverse cultures cannot be all that different from seeing your religion as the only true one and discriminating against others. Except that the "holy book" of the "religion of offending as a means of creating enlightenment" is illustrated and easier to read.

That said, because Charlie Hebdo faced the attack, upholding its right to free speech now becomes paramount, as opposed to merely supporting the right to free speech of yet another kind of religious fundamentalism.

There is also a need for believers of all religions who do not support violence to not blame the actions that "provoked" the criticism by enacting the religion in a manner that brings it disrepute. What Islam (or Hinduism in India) "really" is becomes irrelevant if it manifests as a danger to others. Religious people need to recognize that it isn't their humanitarian description getting insulted and avoid providing smokescreens to criminals by making it about themselves. Violent fanatics conducting cold, premeditated murders while yelling "Allah hu Akbar" or "Jai Shri Ram" are not a figment of the imagination of someone who likes to harass peaceful people. It is time to accept that there are people who enact your religion in ugly ways without your permission and either be okay with it or join the criticism of your own religion for not being enacted in a manner compatible with what you believe it "really" is. Jumping into the fray as victims without interpretation you endorse being criticized only implies that you will allow crimes in the name of your religion and are defending them. This helps no one. Least of all your religion.

What happened at the Charlie Hebdo premises was ugly, tragic and unwarranted - plain wrong. It was a crime and this article makes no attempt to justify it. The intent is only to dig in deeper to a level where we are able to find dialogue that goes beyond camps of "people like us" with "preferences like ours" to uphold. If it manages to engage people into deeper dialogue on what comprises free speech and attempts to find agreement across a wider range of humanity, perhaps over time we may find ways to strengthen and deepen the manifestation of rights - beyond merely being accepted as ideals - to a point where all are strengthened and conversations fuel enlightenment rather than provocation or outrage.

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.

3

The 12 volume chargesheet against Tarun Tejpal seems to be a case of piling up enough trees to obfuscate the woods. I have not read the chargesheet and am going by media reports, which is why it took me so much time to ask - I had to be certain. I would be happy to be proved wrong, but these questions need to be asked.

  1. I hear that the CCTV footage video is not attached with the chargesheet. Considering that it is the most accurate neutral record of fact of at least part of the narrative Tarun Tejpal stands accused of, it is unbelievable that it is not provided. We know that the CCTV footage exists. We know that printouts from the footage frames are attached to the chargesheet. So the question begs to be asked. Why not provide the original video and let the scene speak for itself? This is a reasonable expectation, since Tarun Tejpal has consistently asked for the CCTV footage to be made public claiming that it will "vindicate" him. Under such circumstances, the only interpretation I can think of to not provide the video is because it will prove him right or at least dilute the charges against him and thus is not useful in the chargesheet.
  2. Tarun Tejpal's custody has been extended time and again mostly because of fears of intimidation. The intimidation seems to have manifested right on time to attend bail hearings as well, as I have shown in another article. One intimidation was in Tiya making a concerned visit to the victim's mother, which the victim thanked her for, only to call it intimidation on the next morning. Then you had the investigating officer accuse Tarun Tejpal of intimidating her - something that isn't on record before the bail hearing. Tarun Tejpal denied intimidating the Investigating Officer in a letter, only to have a "replacement intimidation" alleged. Anonymous leaks of the victim's identity through publicly available photos (the victim's identity was widely known courtesy emails she herself circulated) were attributed to Tarun Tejpal without any evidence to back it up, while media websites publishing the victim's photos openly are ignored. So, while the cyber crime departments will waste time trying to trace who sent publicly available photos in emails, and Tiya seems to have taken out the first allegation with the email, what remains is the second allegation of intimidation. None of the reports of the mega chargesheet mention the intimidation. Surely if Tarun Tejpal intimidated a police officer, that would be a charge against him? This mysterious accusation doesn't seem to appear anywhere except a verbal allegation in court just in time for bail to be denied. Why was Tarun Tejpal not charged with intimidating a police officer if he did it? If he didn't, what purpose did the accusation serve?

The recent developments give me a nasty feeling that an early prediction made during this case is going to happen. The victim did not file the case. The victim's letters of complaint used the words sexual harassment and demanded an apology for misconduct (which is not really covered by law as far as I know). The media magnified the case, pointed out the rape, the government proceeded as per rape, an investigation aiming to present a watertight case followed and now the case has reached a point where the police don't attach CCTV footage to the chargesheet.

My guess is that if the CCTV footage becomes known, the case collapses. It is a guess, based on the circus playing out. If that happens, the Goa government gets egg on their face, which will not look good before the Lok Sabha elections. So this will be dragged on till after the elections, if possible. Then, the inevitable happens. The case collapses or gets a far less sentence than advertised. BJP tells the girl they did what they could for her. Tells the world they were misled by media. Media turns and points to the girl.

Sum total of the issue is going to be that supposed women's rights supporters will have ended up heavily supporting the exploitation of an alleged sexual harassment victim's trauma for a media-politics circus that took her through the wringer and dropped her back exactly where she was and with questions about her honesty, because after all the hype, anything less than a conviction for rape is going to backfire on her - even if it hadn't been her who hyped it. At that point media will forget that it is they who magnified her word. It won't be media remembering that her demand for an apology was for misconduct.

Politicians will have had just another day at work. Media will move on to its next rescue for TRPs.

The victim will join the many masses who pass through media spotlight and earn channels crores of rupees and fare no better because of it.

This is the neo-patriarchy. Where women become entertainment, are not in control of their own agenda and are told that this attention and everyone else speaking for them and triggering loads of actions with consequences they will face alone when the dust settles.... is respect, support, feminism.

2

I have a voice and it has weight. However great or little it is. It is my responsibility to use it in a manner that is congruent with my goals. I have an interest in women's empowerment. I have an interest in women getting justice. In justice being accessible to more and more women.

A video went viral yesterday, that allegedly showed Subhash Kapoor confessing to sexual assault of Geetika Tyagi. [Caution: Trigger warning for sexual assault]

Believing it to be a recent incident about how the girl was conned into not filing a case, I was outraged on the girl's behalf, only to discover this morning, that it is a two year old incident and Danish Raza, one of the persons seen in the video has issued the following statement:

You can remain a mute spectator only till a point of time. Beyond that if you keep quiet, rather than neutral, you become a party to the 'crime'. As the first hand witness to the the evening on which Geetika Tyagi has based her allegations of molestation on Subhash Kapoor, both mutual friends introduced by me, and having been there with them 90% of the time that night, I need to put some facts on record.

1. Geetika's first narration to me of this incident, the day after it happened was not of sexual assault. To me it clearly sounded like something that happened between two people and there was no mention of an assault. Her first version was exactly same as Subhash's (consistent) version and her version changed only two days later when she alleged, in the presence of Atul Sabharwal, that 'force' was used. Even in that case she says Subhash stopped when she said 'stop" so where is molestation in it?

2. At 5 am, which must have been in the middle of the incident when she messaged me asking if I have reached home, and I called her back in response immediately, she very coolly told me " Subhash has woken up and he is leaving". there was no mention of the incident, forget force or molestation.

3. Previously, after 4 am, when Geetika's sister and her friend left and only me Subhash and her were left in that house, I asked her "should i wake him up so we can leave"'? and she said " No, its ok, let him sleep"

4. when I told her i want to go home she said "Ok, if you want to go, you can go". I obviously assumed she had no issues with Subhash's presence in her house and left.

5. All through our interaction over the 6 years, it was almost always Geetika who would initiate a meeting with three of us, (not related to work but just coffee sessions). Subhash never asked me to get Geetika along. So there is no way Subhash could have been planning anything that she alleges.

And why am I doing this? Well for the same reason that I told her "Had you even hinted of molestation, at 5 a.m. in the morning I would have been the 1st person to go with you to the police station"

This does not mean Sanjay Kapoor is innocent or Geetika is making a false accusation. It is common for victims of assault to meekly conform till they assimilate what happened to them and are able to speak up. This statement probably doesn't help her interest, if that is what happened. Regardless, this is beyond my capacity to fact check or take a side in.

This is the third case in recent times where an accusation of sexual assault has been made against a public figure through media, but there is no police case filed. The earlier two are the Tarun Tejpal case that has seen him in prison for 3 months largely on the basis of viral outrage created by leaked accusations. Khurshid Anwar is another, where he was accused of brutal rape but no police complaint filed. Khurshid Anwar committed suicide.

This, to me is not a process of justice, however guilty the accused may be. Nor does this development do anything to improve women's rights in general, since all it does is gets police to file cases after outrage, which the vast majority of India's women have no power to engineer. All it remains is toxic page 3 material, that the state may or may not take up depending on its compulsions, which are rarely related with the well being of the victim, in my belief.

My belief in women's rights does not extend to the right of women to bypass law and draw punitive social consequences on men they accuse of assault. If this makes me something less as a feminist, so be it. I see feminism or indeed any activism as a protest of fighting and reversing long standing patterns of injustice, not one of adopting individual cases without rattling the power status quos at the root of the injustice.

I hereby declare the following:

As an extremely conditional feminist, I hereby declare media accusations of rape/assault not accompanied by cases will be disbelieved by me.

This is again not to say the assault did not happen. But I think there are women with far less voice who will suffer skepticism from such.

Further, I will be treating every case that hits media demanding "justice" that is already in process as similar tamasha. Enough.

Make way for people who have actually been denied justice instead of those who'd like to serve punishment without legal process - deserved or not.

I feel no need to prove my humanitarian credentials by raising my voice at every wrong, whether required or not as though it is the raising of the voice that is the change, even if it carefully skirts established inequalities.

I am also of the opinion that media prefers to address human rights through individual cases, so that they are not seen supporting identities that the powerful would not like being empowered. Soni Sori is easier than "tribal woman". Nirbhaya is easier than "women". That way, everyone who didn't do that specific wrong, but routinely subjugates other representatives of their identity can breathe easy. No accusation against them. Media doesn't have to court their ire and get offices vandalized or advertisements withdrawn or perhaps a frown in the next awards function. A coward's way that fragments the sisterhood fighting to overturn inequalities into individual cases cherry picked for justice. And perhaps this is why elite activists prefer it too. Easier to blame strangers than people like us, right?

 

This will probably mean I will not be commenting on individual cases unless there is justice denied.

I am exiting this bullshit.