Twin Battles: Tehelka and Misogyny

Tehelka, a 13 year old Indian news portal and then newspaper, has become a cornerstone of Indian journalism. In the last few days, an employee accused the founder of sexual harassment and intimidation, a charge he accepted and responded to choosing to “recuse himself” for six months. The managing editor, an otherwise stalwart voice against violence against women, did not follow the law and stood by him. 

Some gory details including “This is the best way for you to keep your job”

  1. fact one: sexual harassment is a crime and should be prosecuted as one. nothing can take away from that and hopefully nothing will. 
  2. fact two: tehelka, to date, has been fearless, starting with the publication of incriminating evidence against hate-mongering bajrang dal and rss murderers after the gujurat riots when no other newspaper did. while i may not agree with their methods, their bringing to light (with evidence!) of corruption and the several failures of the indian political machinery have enriched our civil society, our political institutions and democratic processes. 
  3. fact three: tehelka’s coverage of the delhi rape and bringing to attention the ongoing war on dalits, especially dalit women, is one of the best pieces of journalism on institutionalized violence against women. 
  4. fact four: tehelka is NOT tejpal and choudhary, it is the people who work there and the culture that all of those people have created. 

conclusion: institutions are not people. if that were true, the american presidency would have collapsed with bill clinton’s cigar. tarun tejpal has committed a crime. shoma chaudhury has broken the law and shown a serious lapse of judgement which should focus a very strong and critical light on her professional integrity. tehelka is an important institution that will hopefully not fail under the burden of these individual crimes.

ON NOTICE

men and women who think sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape are subjective to who does it and to whom, you are hereby served notice. indian women are speaking up and we will continue to speak up until you see us as equal human beings whose bodies and minds deserve respect just because we exist. pinch us, punch us, intimidate us, humiliate us, assault us, rape us and you will be ruined in the onslaught of our response. we are the daughters and sons of kali and we will wear your rolling heads with equal vengeance. we are holding our leaders accountable, we are holding our courts accountable, we are holding our police accountable and we are holding YOU accountable and it does not matter if you are the boss, the father, the husband, the friend, the colleague, the boyfriend or the stranger on the bus. misogyny, you have been served. 

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