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Women in Media Stand Together Against the Tarun Tejpal Case

There is definitely no denying the fact that the Indian employment sector, irrespective of the type of trade/business, has a rather common notion regarding the type of treatment women “deserve” (This is definitely not a prejudicial statement, coming out of experience but instead a statement that has been deduced after reviewing several statistics). This statement is not far-fetched when looking at the statistics of crimes against women in the employment sector, from sexual assault and harassment to psychological exploitation. The sad reality is that this such treatment has become somewhat of standard practice and it is often overlooked, both by the perpetrator and the victim.

Here is another case where such a notion was proved to be true and led to a heated discourse in the news, at least for some time before, our current media was able to turn it into a “juicy daily scoop”.

Who is Tarun Tejpal?

Tarun Tejpal is a former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine and an Indian journalist, publisher, and novelist. He resigned as editor for six months in November 2013 after a female colleague accused him of sexual harassment. However, he was cleared on all charges by a trial court.

What is the Case About?

In November 2013, Tejpal was accused of sexual harassment by a female colleague in the elevator of a high-end hotel. The incident occurred at Tehelka’s Think festival, which was held at a five-star hotel in Bambolim, Goa.
Tejpal resigned as editor-in-chief of Tehelka a few days after the allegations against him emerged. The Goa Police Department, on the other hand, launched an investigation into the matter and arrested Tejpal on November 30. He was refused bail and taken to the Sada sub-jail.

Tejpal was accused of:

  1. Tejpal was charged by a district court in Mapusa under IPC sections 354-A (sexual harassment),
  2. 376 (rape), 376(2)(k) (rape of a woman by a person being in a position of control or dominance over the woman).
  3. Other charges were later added under IPC sections 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2) (f) (person in a position of trust or authority over women, committing rape of such women), 376 C (sexual intercourse by a person in authority) and section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).

The case was set to be decided on April 27 this year, but a bench led by Justice Kshama Joshi adjourned it to May 12 due to coronavirus restrictions. On Friday, May 21, the verdict was eventually handed down.

What is the Current Status?

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) has released a statement in support of the survivor of the Tarun Tejpal case. After Tejpal was cleared of all charges in the case by a Goa judge. Many were surprised by this because Tejpal had written to the survivor – a junior Tehelka colleague at the time – and other colleagues, apologizing for his behavior. NWMI’s statement talks about how difficult this process has been for the survivor. 

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