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.