Is this India’s Response to #Rape and #Sexual Assault After the #DelhiGangRape Outcry?
Where would we first expect the changes in India after the massive public outcry and institution of new rape and sexual assault laws after the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder? In the police and judiciary? In the feminist and women’s institutions that are at the fore-front of this fight?
This month, two cases of rape/ sexual assault force us to question how change can be implemented if the people who govern the system, and who lead the cause, are also the ones violating it.
A lawyer, who while in her final year at law school, was interning with a Supreme Court judge in Delhi, was sexually assaulted by him. In a blog post she wrote, “Last December was momentous for the feminist movement in the country – almost an entire population seemed to rise up spontaneously against the violence on women, and the injustices of a seemingly apathetic government. In the strange irony of situations that our world is replete with, the protests were the backdrop of my own experience. In Delhi at that time, interning during the winter vacations of my final year in University, I dodged police barricades and fatigue to go to the assistance of a highly reputed, recently retired Supreme Court judge whom I was working under during my penultimate semester. For my supposed diligence, I was rewarded with sexual assault (not physically injurious, but nevertheless violating) from a man old enough to be my grandfather. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that long after I’d left the room, the memory remained, in fact, still remains, with me.”
A panel of three Supreme Court Judges investigated the matter, listened to the testimonies of the intern [Read her affidavit to the Court here] and other witnesses, and indited the judge in question, Justice Ganguly. The Supreme Court Judges said their investigation ” discloses an act of unwelcome behaviour (unwelcome verbal/non-verbal conduct of sexual nature)…” However, the Supreme Court panel refused to take any further action against the Judge or even recommend any further action, because they said he is now retired! Justice Ganguly currently chairs a Human Rights Commission and has refused to resign despite mounting public pressure.
The other incident concerns Tehelka, revered as one of India’s most politically radical, outspoken magazines, that prided itself on fighting for the downtrodden, and institutional transparency. A young journalist with Tehelka, had accused the Founder and editor, Tarun Tejpal of sexually assaulting her twice, during an event organized by the magazine in Goa. From details of the complaint she made to the managing editor, the email for which was leaked out to social media, what was done to her classifies as rape under India’s new rape law which ironically Tejpal and Tehelka had pushed for! Tejpal, in response, said he would resign from the magazine for 6 months as form of “atonement.” The managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, a a feminist journalist, who was listed by Newsweek as ‘150 women who shake the world,’ has angered many, in what people see as her complicity in covering up for Tejpal and the organization. For a full report of this story click here