Feminists have, all along, demanded a level playing field and fought against ‘victim’ labels. Have tables been turned, with raucous baying against the rapacious desire of Indian media’s Christian Grey (from Fifty Shades of Grey, for whom elevators were a favorite hotspot)?
Don’t get me wrong. I have been labeled a ‘feminist’ as I write usually for women, by women and of women. During earlier rapes cases that outraged all of us, I pleaded repeatedly for public exposure of rapists – which happened in the Nirbhaya’s case – and for all of us to move away from that dratted “Mera Raja Beta” syndrome, to teach boys to respect women from babyhood.
A stage comes when one has to wonder what it’s all about. Hard on the heels of those gory gang rapes, TV channels blared the hounding of a woman by state agencies for their ‘Saheb’.
Then L’affaire Tejpal took center stage! To shoo ‘Saheb’ and his lady into the background, hopefully until the elections get over.
What was the new one all about? After encounters (consensual or otherwise, depending on whose version is being read) over two consecutive days, in precisely the same setting – an elevator – a young woman confided in her fiancé and a group of friends. And then, some ten days later, starts pleading ‘raped’ in emails that are made public, with her name. The language in her email now circulating in the ether would do El James proud – India’s own Fifty Shades!!
First, who is this young lady? A young journalist, no wilting flower. If she were, she wouldn’t be a journalist in the first place; leave alone with a sting-happy, scam-exposing Tehelka which needs brash and bold journos – even if Tejpal was her daddy’s pal. He would have gotten her a job elsewhere more suitable to her temperament, rather than make her a misfit in his.
So this young lady is in the Tehelka gang assigned to hostessing the Robert de Niro and family at a lavish think fest in Goa. During the course of said duty, she remains in constant contact with Tarun Tejpal, both before and even immediately after the ‘sexual assaults’ about which she had confided in to her friends, including Tejpal’s daughter.
Going by her version, she remained admirably self possessed, enough to continue with her official hostessing duties and even communicate with her “Rapist” professionally and personally.
Then all of a sudden this self possessed young lady, obsessed with fifty shades of Tejpal, realizes that a complaint is in order, not the Tejpal apology for a ‘drunken banter’ / ‘encounter’.
There is her immediate senior, Shoma Chaudhary of Tehelka who sees a junior colleague in a difficult situation and tries to clam down on the stink – aghast, as Tejpal stands violating all that she had stood for in her career; all her strong stands in the arena of women’s rights are in danger of being flushed down the drain. They already are now, her name horrendously public, unlike the flimsy veil thrown around the ‘victim’.
And Tejpal? Accused of raping his own employee at an event he organized for the Chatterati. After some posturing, he was smart and net-worked enough to have bought time (+ what else?), with the big, brave BJP who sent in its Goa CM as savior of the damsel-in-distress and of its very own warrior-in-distress.
The media dutifully reports medical checks on Tejpal to build Goa police a water-tight case and the persons sharing a cell with Tejpal in custody. What are the odds of this high-profile rapist not spending just a few months in lotus-land Goa (who ever actually ‘stays’ in jail?) Didn’t we see Sanjay Dutt hosting parties and a Mata di Chowki on parole? Then an appeal to upturn everything and after a spell of lying low, a brash re entry into Page 3. Business as usual?
Point to be noted: it is only high profile Rapists who are exposed. The rest enjoy the anonymity to repeat their crimes.
The other high profile Rapist, a former SC judge, no less, is on Tejpal’s page, not acknowledging rape at all. They call them ‘encounters’ now, sexual, not the deadly variety.
Some of Judge Ganguly’s fellow judges have reportedly demanded that no female interns be posted with them – a clear cut case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. They want women out of the office, rather than control themselves. Or is it to eliminate competition for their male offspring some decades down the line? Will it stop ‘encounters’ outside the workplace or the elevator?
All it needs to throw the baby out with the bath water in L’affaire Tejpal would be a classic Tehelka sting: nail the Fifty Shades of Tejpal to establish what was consensual, what was the upshot of the hectic politicking to gain time before arrest and after and what triggered off the raucuous rape charge and police follow up (instead of the commission as in BJP’s ‘Saheb’ case).
For the women, once again the classic “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
Shoma damned for trying to contain the stink; had she chosen to shout from day one, would she not have earned the ire of her colleagues furious at the sabotage of the Tehelka brand? For the “victim”, had she chosen to keep quiet, would her fiancé and those colleagues who kept her secret, have kept it? Were her actions to preempt someone else going public on her?
Still on the lookout for a Man in a world of Rapists?