A recent article published in Mid-Day, defended the accused Tarun Tejpal for raping his colleague in an elevator by calling the incident as ‘brouhaha’, ‘grave error’, and appealing to the readers to rethink on the entire subject matter. I fail to understand how any woman can process sexual molestation, undesired sexual advances and rape by divorcing her own sexuality from it, let alone label it as brouhaha. Being a woman myself, I can say that we personalize trauma when it happens to some other woman. About men, I am sure there are many out there who cannot do a cold, clinical analysis of such an incident. What happened between Mr.Tejpal and the victim took place in Goa (2013) and much analysis has been done since – by the political analysts, the media, the people and much defensive repetition has been done by the accused Mr. Tejpal. For this incident, I would like to put into perspective two elements. The first includes the ideology behind campaigns like Slut walk (2011) and Pink Chaddi (2009) and what those might communicate to the incident at hand, and the second is a realization of exploiting terms like feminism, misandry, vested political interests, capitalism favoring the powerful and everyone stoking the fire by confusing fragmented perspectives with wholesome ideologies.
Campaigns like Slut Walk and Pink Chaddi sensitizes the society, that women cannot be misunderstood and society cannot act upon that misunderstanding by sexualizing women after forming perceptions about them, their appearance and personal choices. No man should declare that there has been an invitation for physical intimacy by subjectively judging through a woman’s transgression of a ‘moral code of conduct’ which the man himself is guilty of delineating from. This puts into perspective what everyone has been thinking about the act in which Tarun Tejpal was involved. Mr. Tejpal claims that his sexual advances have been consensual because of which he took liberties with the lady in an elevator by inserting his fingers inside her vagina.Since it was stated as undesired, this is classified as rape, both – medically and legally. In any case, the behavior is unacceptable because sex in an elevator is humiliating even if consensual.The unnamed victim claims that she never invited Mr. Tejpal to conduct this act. Prem Jha has politically analyzed and attributed the incident to the bitter relationship between Mr. Tejpal and the BJP which dates back to the year 2000’s sting operation that catapulted Tehelka to fame. Mr. Jha mentions that the victim never filed an FIR with the Goa police. She emailed Shoma Choudhary, the then editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine asking that Mr. Tejpal apologizes to her so that she can close the matter and move on. Manohar Parrikar, the then Chief Minister of Goa sardonically commented in his first statement that the FIR has not yet been filed and that he wonders what a person could possibly do in an elevator within a matter of minutes which can be classified as sex. As per the victim’s statement, she does not perceive herself as rape victim. She merely states that the sexual encounter was undesirable and can be legally defined as rape. She goes on to clarify that rape is not always about lust. Rape is an act between the powerful and powerless when the former reinstates upon the latter the power and that sense of entitlement which comes along with power. For me, two elements stick out as sore thumb. How can an apology take away the traumatic feeling of being violated, and how can a person not feel sorry for the self when she herself states that rape can be an act done to the powerless? If a person feels sorry for the self then it cannot convey a sense of empowerment. I am not intellectually masturbating upon these words. I am trying to convey that much has been lost in translation.
As caterers, my parents passed down a wisdom to me, “When cooking anything on a large scale, keep it simple. The recipe is always about 4-5 ingredients. Complicate it when cooking for a smaller group.” My problem with Mr. Tejpal’s offense is the fact that it catered to a country, when it should have been a personal pilgrimage of realization, retribution and redemption regardless of what his social and political standing is.I am sure as a father, he would not like his daughters to be made love to in a similar fashion. About the victim, an apology could have been a half consolation, the completion of which would have been to see the culprit suffer. It is natural and human to feel so. The question is – What is she feeling now? The trauma of rape is always personal and never about a social concept of feminism because when the victim tries to portray it in a feminist angle, the issue can be depicted as anything else but that. It is for the society to process the incident in the light of feminism so that the occurrence can be eliminated. The incident must have been painful and traumatic. It happened between a man and a woman who were already familiar with each other at the time of the incident. For me, it certainly has nothing to do with the man that Mr. Tejpal is for the world, and it also has nothing to do with the BJP government to whom a revenge would dawn upon after 13 years of sting operation.
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