Is there a proper way to treat a rape victim? This question is asked by many in India following a court ruling dismissing charges against a man for raping a female colleague and challenging the alleged victim’s behavior.
THE judge Kshama Joshi wrote how In photos taken shortly after the alleged attack, the young woman “smiled and looked happy, normal, in a good mood”, as broadcast by the BBC.
“She did not appear to be disturbed, restrained, intimidated or injured in any way despite the fact that this was immediately after her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted.”, the judge wrote in her 527-page decision.
The charges against Tarun Tejpal, a well-known journalist and former publisher of Tehelka magazine, have been dropped. The Goa government, which appealed the ruling, called for an earlier hearing on Thursday, saying “we owe it to our girls” and that the acquittal was “wrong” and “unsustainable”.
The Supreme Court agreed and announced that it would consider the case on June 2.
An acquittal that surprised many
The woman accused Tejpal of attacking her in an elevator for two consecutive nights at an event in Goa in November 2013. Allegations spanning almost 3,000 pages were recited. The journalist was charged with “unjustified and unlawful restraint, assault, sexual harassment and rape by a person in power or control “. Tejpal denied all charges.
Allegations against such a prominent figure in journalism and publishing in India have made headlines around the world, the BBC reports.
Tehelka, the journal he founded in 2000, was known for some of the greatest research topics in Indian journalism. The India Ink publishing house represented big names in the world of literature.
The woman who accused him was not only his servant but also the daughter of a friend and the best friend of his own daughter. In court, the woman said she was like a father to her and that she trusted him.
His acquittal came as a surprise to many. His description of the events had changed somewhat: he had initially said that everything was done by consensus, then he spoke of a “misreading of the situation” which led to “an unfortunate incident”. He later retracted an earlier statement in which he said he had “attempted sexual intercourse despite outright reluctance”, saying he had been forced to issue it initially.
In court documents, he described the elevator incidents as “drunken jokes”.
Following his acquittal, the judge turned his attention to the woman who accused him. He wondered why the woman had spoken to three male colleagues about the alleged attack and not to the woman her roommate. Why didn’t she cry in front of her friends? “It is unbelievable that he fought violently but had no injuries,” he wrote.
The court decision provoked strong reactions.
“It’s not just a character murder, it’s a slaughter of her character”, commented a lawyer to add: “It seems that the woman’s morality was being tried and not whether she had been raped”.