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3

Thoughtless protections and rabid lawmaking by our government have brought us to this point where the laws to protect women are a joke. We are just blindly tweaking. A court accepting a rape victim's statement has now become everybody and his cousin and media having to accept victim's statement as the sole truth. Women cannot lie, say the popcorn gallery who don't want delays on the way to the next outrage. Oh really? A woman would say she willingly did something that is being seen with disapproval? Heck I know women who lie that they didn't break a cup to avoid disapproval. Women are not liars any more than men are, but the unquestioning acceptance of their word is rapidly becoming a weapon too, while the wretched ones are still struggling to be heard.

Then is the one on anonymity. We do not disclose victims identities to protect them from any social stigma that may ensue. Instead, we have women who use the anonymity and credibility to wage media wars of accusations where there simply is no way to dispute the narrative without seeming to be "victim blaming". There is no anonymity with press releases and media interviews. The anonymity is only that while they can launch accusations, none can reach them, nor can they be questioned.

Then a question also arises whether a rape victim who does not file case and uses media to make a point should be anonymous. Surely, if media court is the justice of choice, then robust questioning should be possible? Weaponizing painstakingly created safeguards to wage uneven wars puts the punishment before the judgment, but worse, creates resistance to protecting the millions of women who need protections desperately and misogynists see reasons to refuse and vilify women that get difficult to explain to one not used to thinking of gender inequality.

Classic case of elite women doing a "Khaye piye khiske." without giving a thought to the collective they sabotage as when use the unquestioning acceptance of the victim's word created for all who need that trust. This unequal right was granted by law - yes, granted, not a "fundamental right" to be permanently treated as perpetual voice of truth - because there are terrible crimes that need to be stopped and vast majority of women would not lie about them. But rape itself is now changed. Dropping this now. It is a festering anger that needs its own post.

We are at a permanent default of outrage. A hit and run groping and a gang rape get the same response. There is no sense of proportion, and any punishment can't be enough. We are just masturbating vengeance on the entire list of gender inequality we have discovered and want thousands of years of a mess fixed now. Escalate everything.

So rape is now 10 years instead of 7 years. Slightest penetration of any part of body against consent constitutes rape. You cannot question if a woman says she was raped, and it is fucking impossible to prove that you didn't rape for accusations like fingers or objects. Rape kits are meaningless, semen won't be there. If you are accused of rape, letting you go itself will get a court bad publicity.

If you are a man, you will know what it is like to live at permanent risk of trauma you are helpless against. If you are a woman, your fight to be believed when you seriously hurt got tougher.

PS: Angry rant. Take it or leave it. Don't nitpick.

When the email about Tejpal's recusing himself from his job for six months leaked, I took it at face value and was angry with Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhary. Shoma's refusal to form a sexual harassment committee whipped it into fury. There was no way that a sexual harassment committee was not required.

Then, the narrative evolved, and the clamour for an FIR, using the emails as proof happened. Goa police filed an FIR on their own and came to Delhi. This seemed to overrule the victim's wishes on the matter, and no way was that a good idea in my eyes.

Yesterday, the narrative has avalanched into something that needs to be questioned. There are too many gaps, too many things going on under the cover of "supporting the victim". It reminds me of that scene from Face Off. That wonderfully surreal fight scene with an audio track with a child's song. I have questions. In no particular order.

Letter by Shoma Chaudhary including forward of Tarun Tejpal's letter

  1. The letter was leaked as soon as it was sent on the 20th November 2013. I had taken this to be an indicator of how much it outraged the staff, but considering the number of leaks littering this case, I am no longer sure. Was this letter made public because it established something evidence of the case up to that point didn't and there no longer was a need to wait for Tejpal to incriminate himself? Possibly that the SMSes were not explicit in establishing what happened between them? This isn't to blame the victim. I'd probably try and trap a guy who wronged me into confessing and nailing himself squarely. And after all, this was an organization that elevated stings to a whole new level of truth telling.
  2. The letter is an astonishing admission of guilt, even if it does not mention the specifics of the case - which couldn't possibly remain hidden after the bombshell of Tejpal "recusing" himself. Neither Shoma Chaudhary nor Tarun Tejpal are idiots or ignorant of processes of justice, and it is rather unbelievable that they did not realize that these emails would be seen as an acceptance of guilt. I don't imagine that either of them would have done this without feeling confident that the victim would not be pursuing a police case (at that point, everything was still within the organization and the victim was refusing to file an FIR). What or who convinced them that an admission of guilt was in their best interest?

Please note. I don't believe Tejpal is innocent at all. My question is, how did someone this entrenched in crime journalism write an admission of guilt? This does not look like a cover up, regardless of media hysteria. More importantly, to me it points to some input from somewhere (clearly not the victim, who was not satisfied) that accepting guilt was the right way to go for someone accused of rape.

I also don't believe Tejpal gave enough of a damn about Shoma's feminist beliefs that he would incriminate himself for them. So there is something else here that has not been leaked. Whether it has an impact on the "facts" of the situation as we know it is anyone's guess.

I also don't believe the "hindsight" theory some seem to be inventing - that he apologized first and then decided to call it consensual. Any criminal's first instinct is to deny the crime - particularly one with guaranteed difficult consequences. That the founder and editor of a magazine routinely delving into and exposing strategies of crime was so innocent that he didn't consider it is too much for me to believe.

Letter by Tehelka rape victim to Shoma Chaudhary

Now this one is even more interesting. This is the magic letter that has allowed suo motu cognizance by the Goa police, National Commission for Women and every third handle on Twitter.

  1. The letter was written by the victim informing Shoma Chaudhary of the actions of Tarun Tejpal. It was copied to three of the victim's friends who she had confided in along with a comment that Shoma could contact them for any clarifications she saw necessary. A strange way of putting it, since the three knew what she told them anyway. Regardless of the odd way of including them, they were included in what was basically the victim's letter of complaint to an office senior that made accusations Tejpal & Co are extremely unlikely to want public. The other three were supposedly the victim's friends standing by her staunchly. Yet the email was leaked. Who leaked it?
  2. The email was leaked without redacting the victim's name. Was this intentional? What was achieved?
  3. While not impossible, I am having trouble visualizing a situation where a person engages in sexual aggression while steadily multitasking enough to be pressing lift buttons continuously, or that a reluctant and/or struggling woman would be divested of her undergarment, attempted oral sex with AND penetrated with fingers in the time a lift took to come down two floors, since it seems even more improbable to achieve with one hand busy with lift buttons. I am not saying the victim is lying and Tejpal may very well have done something else to delay the lift, but it sounds quite rapid for the short time span as well as reluctance claimed as described. Besides, a rapid violation is no less a violation.

Leaky letters

This scandal is littered with leaked letters.

  1. Tejpal's "recusing" letter forwarded in Shoma's letter.
  2. Victim's email to Shoma
  3. Tarun Tejpal's email to victim
  4. Tarun Tejpal's email to his friends
  5. Victim's email to Shoma

How are these leaks happening?

Shoma and Tejpal have nothing to gain and everything to lose, including their organization (if we go by predictions of the end of Tehelka with this) by contents of at least some of these letters going public. The victim or her wellwishers would not want her name leaked. It would be very easy to edit out or use a pseudonym *before* it went out of hand and appeals to public were needed. So who else has access to these emails, who may be fine throwing both Tejpal and the victim to the wolves?

But more interesting than the emails leaked are the emails not leaked. We have no sense of Shoma's response to the victim - for example. Which makes me wonder whether that is because she didn't use email to respond or she isn't relevant to the goal of the leaks, or she didn't say something that would incriminate Tejpal leaked or she said something that couldn't be presented as "Tehelka trying to silence the victim"?

About the last, there seems to be a general consensus that Tejpal/Tehelka are trying to silence the victim without any specifics on why that is so. There is no evidence that the victim is getting silenced or prevented from seeking justice in any manner. In fact, there is an abundance of support for the victim seeking a more severe method of justice. A visit by a member of Tejpal's family to her results in a press statement about it that talks of apprehensions of what could be - let alone being unable to act freely on what is. She has achieved one of the most impossible things on the internet. Remaining anonymous even after identity has been leaked by a political+celebrity proile with 40,000 followers, with hundreds of people chasing down any mentions on her behalf and getting them removed. Leaks are manifesting to strengthen her case even as she pleads that her emails not be leaked. What part of this is sounding like anyone is silencing her? So where is this being manufactured?

Threat perceptions

There have been unusual mentions of inexplicable threats in this scandal. There are those that make sense - for example the victim's email to Shoma speaking of expecting to lose her job, feeling scared and so on. Completely natural for a victim to feel.

And then there are these: Victim spoke with media yesterday claiming to be pressured and intimidated by a member of Tejpal's family visiting her mother asking her to protect Tejpal and asking for information about the legal help the victim was receiving and what she wanted from the investigation. Sounds like intimidation aimed to silence the victim, particularly if you read "reports" of it instead of the statement only. Except an update on Facebook by Kavita Krishnan well after the supposed visit of this intimidating person states emphatically:

The complainant in the ‪#‎Tejpal‬ case is neither isolated nor pressurised, on the contrary she is in close consultation with several lawyers and activists whom SHE chose to reach out to. She's the one who resisted any pressure and came forward and complained. If you ask me, I'd love an FIR to be filed and Tejpal jailed. But we respect this woman very much, and she knows we'll stand by her no matter what her decision. I'm not in the business of coercing her or rushing her. The real and sole evidence is her word, not CCTV footage - and no one is going to wipe that out. If she decides to file an FIR or to cooperate with the Goa police FIR that's great. But if she decides that a properly constituted Vishakha enquiry is what she wants, keeping the FIR option open for later, we should respect that decision. I and other activists are waiting patiently for her to arrive at a decision and issue a statement, and I would urge others to do the same, instead of assuming she's a helpless 'victim' or that we are evil feminists misleading her. In fact it's Tejpal's pals who are spreading that we the activists are 'misguiding' her - precisely because we are there with her as the strongest and most solid support there is.

This could possibly be related only to denying that activists are pressuring her, and may not apply to Tejpal's relative who visited her mother, but an "unnamed source" (God. This case is full of concealed sources of relevant information) clarified that the person to visit the victim's mother was the person who had unconditionally supported the victim and confronted Tejpal out of anger on the victim's behalf (something the three friends she confided in did not seem do). In that context, how threatening does her asking about legal help the victim is seeking or what she wants from the investigation sound?

Perhaps it still is threatening. Or perhaps the victim is spooked and naturally feels apprehensive of a family member of Tejpal approaching her mother. But there are others feeling the threats too.

For example, Shoma Chaudhary asking a reporter (Aditya Raj Kaul) who asked her a question his name had him wondering on Twitter whether she was threatening him.

There is the "threat" of Shoma Chaudhary stating that there is another side to the story. I mean whoever would have thought that a story has any side except the one in media? Of course it has to be a threat if she says Tejpal has his version. I really don't buy this paranoia, but it is in dozens of articles.

Niti Central goes ahead and states that the sexual harassment committee would be an act of vengeance against the victim (who is the one who wanted it - Tehelka didn't actually have one till outrage on the victim's behalf forced them) complete with a script of the kind of things that would be said so that the victim would be intimidated into silence.

The CCTV question

Goa police said they would examine the CCTV footage of the hotel. On the 22nd, they said that the hotel had not yet given them the footage.

Also on the 22nd, Tarun Tejpal's press release urged that the CCTV footage of the hotel be examined and released to establish what had happened.

A day later, Goa police say that they have no CCTV footage from inside the elevator where the alleged assault took place.

Now, the million dollar question is whether Tarun Tejpal knew that there was no footage before demanding that the footage be examined, or whether the Goa police "failed to get footage of the inside of the elevator because there was no camera in elevator" after Tarun Tejpal asked for it to be examined.

Stray tweets on Twitter seemed to think Times of India has footage from the CCTV showing Tejpal pulling victim into elevator. If that is so, it will be yet another leak of evidence to media.

The Political angle

This case sees the right wing once again a champion of human rights, which means they are accusing the left wing of sabotaging the interests of the victim. The usual. Most likely dictated by the routine hyperbole, particularly with elections coming up. For example, BJP affiliated accounts have consistently given the most paranoid explanations of what is happening and insisted on FIRs to the point of their National Spokesperson pointing out in front of media that as per the new law, sexual assault was a crime against the state. Which probably means that victims of sexual assault have an obligation to suffer additional trauma in order for the state to get justice against the crime committed against it, if a suitable political party decided it should be so.

BJP is all over this case to the point of wondering how and where it fits after wanting nothing to do with Tehelka all these years. It is Madhu Kishwar who openly tweeted the victim's name (other than a few handles with negligible followers). She brazened it out by claiming that she had seen the name being openly used in many places, which wasn't true.

ABVP supporters held protests outside the Tehelka office, there were whispers of stones thrown at Tarun Tejpal's house. The Chief Minister of Goa who has spectacularly failed to arrest the accused in the assault of a Nigerian that gave him serious head injuries, sent police from Goa to Delhi after filing an FIR, though it was hardly any time since he had said he couldn't do anything unless the girl complained. This is in addition to countless statements by party leaders. The loudest noises that an FIR should be filed regardless of the victim's wishes comes from the BJP as well.

And while it isn't uncommon for BJP to pick a trending cause, particularly if it involves targeting someone they already hate, it is hardly any specific interest in law and order or even the victim's rights, which are basically props.

Overall trend is that the BJP (who hasn't forgotten the stings that stung) is the most critical of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury. Congress leaders are cautious but certain that more information and investigations are necessary. AAP seems to have commented cautiously, praising Tejpal's stepping down while Other leaders have given statements to media on the subject that are more cautious, endorsing the victim's rights and offering solidarity.

So what is really happening here?

I have no idea, but whatever it is has Tejpal neatly caught where he can't escape (which is probably a good thing) and is riding roughshod over the victim (which is probably a bad thing).

My current conclusions on the Tejpal scandal

I have no doubt that Tejpal is in the wrong. ALL options point there including Tejpal's own confessions.

I am not sure Shoma Chaudhary is guilty. She seems upfront when speaking, if a little defensive - which is likely the stress more than guilt. Her explanation for the email that broke the scandal makes sense. She was beginning to deal with this, and taking charge seemed the first step. There is no reason to disbelieve her, particularly since she has been doing the right things one by one. I am a little disappointed that she didn't stick with her stand of not cooperating with an FIR against victim's wishes (which was a stand I respect particularly for the high stress circumstances it had to be taken in), but from what I hear, victim herself is cooperating with it, so no reason for Shoma to not do so either.

No matter which way you look at it, Tejpal looks like a goner. At best - even if his every claim of innocence is true, he engaged in an unprofessional "liason" with a junior colleague, which is usually understood to be exploitative due to unequal power involved. Rohan Joshi nailed it - unequal on gender, power and age. More likely, he engaged in a crime that has the least punishment as 10 years and technically, he seems to qualify. It is another matter if our judges see it as fair to destroy the life of a member of the precious male sex over something like this, though thankfully, the media spotlight may make upholding the law more likely at least.

I am not sure what other forces and agendas are influencing the tip of this iceberg that is visible, but I'm fairly certain that confessions and apologies would not be possible without considerable confidence that the victim was not going to use them in court.

The victim's wish for Sexual Harassment Committee has been successfully bypassed, whether the farce ends now or later. With the Goa police filing an FIR, there remains no reason for Tejpal to cooperate and every reason for him to not cooperate considering any admission, apology or regret before the SHC will get used against him in court. So it is a matter of time before the penny drops.

Will Tejpal go to jail? My gut feel is no. Should he? Hell yes, but my guess is that once the elections are done, this story will die out, and the victim will be left floundering to find her way with far less power at her fingertips.

Also looking at the news this case came and wiped out of people's attention. And other factors.

In my view, this case has been compromised by political agendas to the point of it being a second exploitation of the victim. Brand new impeccable moral stands still smelling of paint have been whipped up on display for this case, while anything before and since seems to not exist. Check out the contrast with the story of sexual harassment in the Supreme Court, which actually had serial PIL filer and creep extraordinaire, advocate M L Sharma (of the Delhi Gang Rape comments outrage) filing a public interest litigation against newspapers for giving voice to the victim - and it does not appear to have struck very many people as a silencing of the victim by powerful people. Instead, media has meekly ignored the story for the most part.

The message is crystal. Tejpal is a unique person doing an unbelievably heinous crime that has no precedent or comparison and what he has done is so unbelievably dangerous that unless we overrule the victim's insipid ideas of justice that don't put him in jail for a decade right now, no telling what he will do next.

Just like every media tamasha.

Yawn.

I support whatever the victim wants. Everyone else can fuck off.

And a part of me worries about the journalists at Tehelka who have done nothing to deserve this.

8

Dear Mrs Dixit,

I have read your comments on the Delhi gangrape. I applaud your honesty in admitting failure, in admitting the dangerous condition of Delhi for women and your determination that there must be change. In a more cynical mood, I think that it is easy for you to make these admissions considering that you are not in charge of security. However, you are in charge of the city and the mindset thriving in it makes this your responsibility, This also doesn't let you off the hook for other comments in the past.

However, this letter is about the future. You have mentioned in an interview that you have the intention to not sit idle and wait for security to happen, but to initiate a social drive to create a transformation in society. This is one of the wisest things anyone has said on the subject so far. I agree that this is the correct approach, and as a keen people watcher with an interest in women's rights, I have suggestions for transformation, if applied with integrity.

Most of the things on the table will not work. The buses and pubs are topical measures. Unless you plan to install CCTV cameras in fields and school toilets and turn the whole city into a super surveillance prison, this can't really starve rapists of locations or methods. Even as prison it will fail. This will strip the rights of the common man, which are already pretty shredded and encroached; lead to overall unrest.

Rapists don't see themselves as criminals till the need for a cover up. What happens to criminals will not deter them. Plus prosecution is lethargic and cops not interested in filing cases they can avoid. Harsh punishment for rapists won't fix the problem. There is a danger in creating laws in a moment of fury. Our country has a penchant for slapping laws onto things that can't be fixed by laws. And this is without our notoriously flawed witch hunt investigations and propensity to frame people. Irreversible punishments may just lay the brickwork for future disasters.

There is a process to rape. A rapist has a certain kind of thinking that allows the use or abuse of women sexually. Such a person finds an opportunity and a reason to do it. Then there is the victim. There are cops. The investigation. Judicial process. The judgment itself. Each of these can be improved. Lots of potential here if someone is serious about rolling up sleeves and getting to work. Most important is everything coming before the rape, because that can actually prevent it.

The opportunity and reason part of it is near impossible to prevent (and is Shinde's job anyway). Other things like police response and all will definitely help, but like you said, you can't do much about that beyond insisting, which you must.

In a normal society, there is a non-verbal contract of obeying laws, paying taxes and other duties in return for enforcement of rights, facilities that support and enhance living, protection from harm, etc. India is in a precarious position. People are experiencing that while they obey laws and pay taxes, and so on, they are not safer, they are finding living more difficult from inflation, unemployment, insecurity, whatever. There is dissatisfaction and very little awareness of equality.  It is every person for himself, with the sexually repressed environment demonizing sex, lesser chances of marriages, etc. The primitive chauvinistic culture has little in terms of legal oversight (possibly the price of vote bank politics).

Too much permissibility of subjugation of women has made their condition precarious. To add to this is a reinforcement of impunity for further humiliation of women with public figures making rabidly anti-women statements. Witness Nirupam's questioning of Smriti Irani's character. This is pretty much what every street thug does as he sizes up your breasts to grope on a bus. Big breasts is loose character, dancing is loose character, revealing clothes is loose character, late night on bus is loose character. The predator needs to find a way to turn his victim into a "bad person" in order to punish her with his actions, or he has to face that he is a demon (which no one does - everyone thinks of themselves as good people). Which is how Smriti Irani dancing is a reflection of her character, but hey Sunil Dutt or Govinda danced way more than her for far more money. But there is no utility in questioning their character.

This is further compounded by the Savitri and Sexy syndrome, where some women are objects of evil, while others are objects of innocence. So it is highly unpredictable who is a potential attacker till too late. Who knows who has what kind of hang up? So you had students protesting the rape of a student showing bangles to the police - as if it is an insult to be a woman. They used foul language about you or Sonia Gandhi - both women. Needless to say going among them without security is highly inadvisable for either of you, while the other "innocent" girls may do so without fear (unless they break another stereotype). It is not possible to go around analyzing every man. Nor is it appropriate to treat all men as potential sexual predators - the traditional line taught to unmarried girls in the hopes of keeping them away from men. Usually fails and leads to heartbreak or marriage or great/lousy sex. Hormones are a compelling influence no amount of moral policing can trump.

The need of the hour is a carrot - stick approach that keeps enough people in line that the rest can be fixed in other ways.

The carrots are the goodies. Increased acceptance of sex, propagation of ideas of sex as a natural and healthy thing, education on contraceptives, de-shaming sex, education on the paramount importance of consent as a part of sex (this also needs more solidly plugged into the laws and constitution), acceptance of sexuality, acceptance of sex professionals, industry (not exploitation), films and toys, and more. The more you can end repression of sexuality and make it easy and acceptable (as natural), the less likely it is to burst out in unpredictable, uncontrollable and devastating ways. Please note that this doesn't mean lowering the age of marriage. Sex and marriage need to be differentiated.

The sticks are the taboos. Enforcing laws is the biggest one. Creating public opinion on the unacceptability of sex without consent. Punishing every instance of demeaning women without discrimination (more below) by public figures or in media. Preventing exploitation in marriage, trade, whatever. The idea is to make these taboos so strong, that you have to be a really filthy creature to even think these things. Think of how well the church has done making homosexuality unthinkable. The pope is still fighting tooth and nail for his right to devastate lives. For a good cause, it could work brilliantly. Really heavy duty bombardment and relentless public opinion mongering. Religious leaders could be roped in to whatever extent they feel able to follow the laws of India.

The idea is the creation of a social environment where the laws matter. Here, your leaders and public figures are important. Visible role models upholding law will create a virtue out of that, visible role models insulting women will encourage the public to do similar. What is good/bad, acceptable or not, even which laws to take seriously and which ones to bend is often understood by watching what others are doing, and the references lie in the public space.

About the punishing of demeaning of women, it is actually written that it should be so. Another law enforced to manipulate people, but not protect them. It must be enforced. The women's commissions should be hauled over coals for not protecting women to begin with and then, if they repent, should be tasked with filing legal cases for offending the modesty of a woman for every single instance of victim blaming, character judgments, insulting comments about women, etc. Such people should be punished in courts or if they settle out of courts, one of the conditions must be a public apology that should be well covered in media. If the people receive it well, they are off the hook, or the case should go on.

Every single instance. be it a politician, a police officer, a judge, a school principal, khap panchayat - whoever, whatever. Regardless of political loyalties. The women's commission must not have any members who belong to political organizations or are related to politicians. Any of them not fulfilling these conditions must be replaced. Women's commissions should also alert appropriate authorities in the case of anyone in a tax funded job, so that appropriate action may be taken. Good idea for this could be fining half the salary for 6 months to fund women's rights initiatives. On an aside, a good person to have on a woman's commission is a blogger called Indian Homemaker. A superb and sensible warrior of human rights with an impeccable sense of what is fair. With no affiliations (that I know of) to make her judgment suspect.

The censor board must be hauled over coals for allowing content that promotes women as inferior and encourages subjugation. All the soap operas showing bold women as evil must be forced to rewrite scripts to be compatible with the message of equality in our constitution. Films with super hit songs (and stories) promoting sexual harassment must be forced to run captions that the action demonstrated in the film is actually illegal as per Indian law. "Good" women characters must be forced to comply with health weight charts. An underweight model must not be promoted as a role model, particularly in stories showing women of normal or heavier weights as stupid. "Good" characters must not exhibit a virtue of suffering abuse silently. On the contrary, they must fight abuse - against themselves at least, compulsorily. Challenging status quo must not be the sign of a bad character. Any "item numbers" projecting women as enjoying being touched by a crowd of men must have the actresses giving independent interviews disclosing if they really enjoyed being touched or would like to experience such a thing in real life. These interviews must be appended to the film in all future releases. Shows to focus on various aspects of women's rights to raise awareness must be designed. Tax exemptions must be given to films/books/content that promote healthy attitudes toward women.

I think this is a good laundry list to start with. Particularly important is the point about punishing public role models of humiliating women. I congratulate you on your healthy attitude to the problem, and I think you need not find yourself helpless. It will not be so difficult to change society if the people planning the change know what they are doing. Particularly for someone with the tremendous resources and reach of the state on their side. We stand by you, and hope that you come up with a model that can be replicated countrywide.

I would be happy to hatch more ideas with any team you have, if you find these useful.

Wishing you the best,

Vidyut

10

The mountain of shame with our treatment of women keeps mounting. There is unending evidence that provocative clothes have little to do with rape and molestation, yet our policemen and political leaders choose to blame the women for being victims. I challenge them to find the woman in India who hasn’t been molested on public transport. If the entire country is full of provocative women, then maybe they need to come to terms with the world they live in.

On the other hand, considering that most men don’t rape and will spend entire lives without raping, it is difficult to blame women for being provocative, because if women’s clothing were the problem, all men would have raped at some point or the other – or at least most of them. If provocative clothes were the problem, women in salwar kameez and saris wouldn’t be raped.

These are facts women have got tired of repeating, and yet they seem to make no impact on the intellect of these misogynists.

Behavioral science deals with a phenomenon called projection, where a person denying something about self condemns its manifestation in the world outside. So, a person who feels lust and hides it out of guilt, blames whatever he is seeing at the timefor his feelings that he doesn't want to face. The fact is, we see the world through a lens of our thoughts. It is like the blind men and the elephant. Whether the elephant is called a pillar or rope is less about the elephant and more about the blind man's ability to understand it.

To avoid discomfort of responsibility for their own actions, the irresponsible mind projects it at the object they wish to exploit in an effort to justify attacking it. In attacking it, the perpetrator finds relief for his own illegitimate thoughts. But the justification is false. The cause of the action is not external. This is not dissimilar to hitting the object that a child hurt itself on to make the child stop crying. Except that these are adults making no effort whatsoever to manage their own thoughts and actions and the “objects” being hit are living, breathing human beings.

They prefer to deflect condemnation from those who represent their thinking onto victims of those thoughts and actions in a macabre attempt to justify their own inhuman attitudes toward women.

In a superficial sense, it works too. The DGP of Andhra Pradesh, V. Dinesh Reddy blamed women’s clothing and (believe it or not) food men eat for rapes. Now Karnataka’s women and child welfare minister C C Patil blames rising incidents of rape on provocative clothes. And KK Seethamma, who heads the committee against sexual harassment in Bangalore University thinks women wear obscene clothes to tempt men. Last year, the DCP of Delhi had blamed women traveling alone, unescorted, conveniently forgetting our “Women’s day celebration” of the murder of a young girl in broad daylight outside her college in the capital of the country. Shiela Dixit's "One should not be Adventurous" was another such one.

The terrifying part of this is not just that women are being blamed for rapes, but the kind of clothing that is being considered as obscene. Reddy speaks of women wearing salwar kameez. Seethamma thinks that blouses of saris should be full sleeved! In other words, almost every woman in the country is obscene and that is why men rape. Every person mentioned above is in a position where he or she is expected to protect rights of women.

Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan K. G. Balakrishnan had tried to fix this problem by approving of marriage between rapist and victim – in essence opening the door to permanent victimization of the women by being pressured into a marriage to prevent shame – make it look ok, never mind if the victim is condemned to living with her oppressor.

Aparently these shining custodians of the well being of our country don’t read news. MOST rapes are of modestly dressed women. Women dressed provocatively are actually NOT attractive targets for rapists, because they are less likely to stay silent out of shame, more likely to fight back, make a scene, file a complaint and slap them in a line up.

But the ostrich game here is that this is about provocative women. "If only women were not provocative, everything would be all right." Tell that to men who get raped. Tell that to babies that get raped. Should the baby have worn a less transparent diaper? The vulnerable in any society are the first visible victims of its decay, but make no mistake, the decay is all pervading. If all women and kids were separated totally from all men, there still would be rapes.

Blaming the victim is a long time technique of those in power who are not interested in protecting the weak. Whether it is peaceful protesters being brutally silenced, or it is women being raped. It becomes convenient to make their safety their problem and shrug it off as them being responsible for their own suffering. There is no interest in challenging powerful people and suffering unnecessary inconvenience in order to protect un-advantageous weak people.

This, bigotry is the reality of the protectors in our country. Is it any wonder that India is the fourth worst place in the world for a woman? Yes. A worldwide survey has come up with data. The even scarier part in this is our population. Fourth worst in the world takes on a whole new meaning when put into the context of our size. To put it bluntly, we are one of the major contributors to women's rights violations worldwide - not a list we should aspire to be on.

Women’s clothing is a guaranteed red herring. It distracts from their failure to prevent crimes to a debate that is irrelevant to it – the conclusion becomes about women’s clothes or men’s culpability and misses the fact that these people are incompetent at their jobs and continue to earn salaries and victimize victims of their incompetence further through blame.

Well, here is the wake up call. A mob of thirty odd men gang molested a woman standing on the street on New Year’s Eve. It was broadcast on TV. She was escorted by a man. She was wearing a full sleeved sweater. A group of thirty odd men fell upon her like a pack of dogs and the police beat them away like the dogs they were.

In other words, these brilliant orators explaining how it is a woman's fault she gets raped don't know which end of their anatomy they are talking from. Sorry to rain on your parade. Happy New Year!