The Rights Of The Victim

Posted: December 1, 2013

Amidst all the uproar of the Tehelka “episode” regarding the rights of the journalist and the duties of the Management and Editorial team, there is an ever increasing group of perpetual bystanders, who are revelling in the sordid drama.

An email sent by the victim in which she describes the assault in her own words (and is a confidential document), is being circulated in social media sites.

The speed with which this email is being passed on belies the famed lethargy of our race. And the contents are being devoured by people, who perhaps never go beyond the headlines of a newspaper.

Instead of expressing their views on what is a breach of trust, a heinous crime and a terrible instance of professional misconduct, they are speculating on something which should not even be spoken about. The details of the actual assault!!

Why, then, do we wonder about the reluctance of victims of sexual crimes to speak out? Why do they not come out to complain against their perpetrator?

The recounting of something so intensely horrific and repeated description in detail of a trauma is a mental hurdle, which can perhaps be crossed, provided one knows that what has been confided will be known to a select few.  The few who need to ascertain that the crime has been committed and those who will be involved in getting the procedure of justice.

But the voyeuristic pleasure that seems to emanate from everyone, who is feverishly forwarding this email is pathological. The name of the victim, is apparently revealed in this email. Something, that is legally not permissible. In addition to the gobbling and regurgitation of the details by the media, now the victims are faced with unforgivable intrusion into their privacy.

After every such crime, there is a collective sigh of relief emanating from the public-at-large about the fact that it did not happen to them or someone they loved! Crimes such as these are not mere statistics. They are also a reflection of our societal values and the changing times. Given a different set of circumstances and an altered permutation of time and place, let us not forget that it could happen to any of us.  I wonder if these compulsive “forwarders” would so insouciant, if it was their own near and dear ones’ trauma which was being discussed so ghoulishly?

I am Ujwala Shenoy Karmarkar. I love reading, meeting people, listening to music, watching plays,

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  1. I agree with your points! Insensitive nature of people who are sharing the email is a proof that people in our land have become inhuman towards safety of a woman.

    However, I also feel that this is the very reason why many women feel scared to come out and voice the crimes that have happened with them. While privacy is a question that is much raised, social impact and questioning of character makes women helpless. The non supportive and non conducive social structures are a pain for any woman to handle. Result: nobody easily comes out and talks about it. They would better get mentally tortured inside and let the criminal flee rather than coming out and fighting for it. I don’t blame them at all. Its easier said than done. Wont happen till the time people become sensitive enough to understand the seriousness of the issue. I think that it is a shame that our system (family, society and government) fails to do anything in this regard. While rights of a girl to be born are not given, expecting people to be sensitive towards protecting rights of victim is beyond question. The irony is, even government fails to do anything about it.

  2. Completely agree with the comments posted here and with the article. Already, and this is even before the persons concerned go on trial, there are mass conjectures being drawn on the character of the victim, with people and here i mean including girls and women, questioning why did the girl go back into the elevator, or (2) Why did she stay quiet for so many days. I may add that these viewpoints were put forward even more forcibly after the mass circulation of the victim’s mail on social media, including What’sapp!!
    At the same time, men are hotly debating on how the new laws in place post the Nirbhaya case will hold fast in a society like India’s.
    At no point have i come across even one discussion on how, with women occupying almost every kind of office space, can the working environment be made more secure and positive for them to work.
    Worst still, while a certain political hotshot’s comments on how complaints of harassment will encourage senior officers and bureaucrats to shy away from having women as workmates were largely derided in media, I have come across so many men agreeing with him in private. does no one realise that if such a terrible scenario, of even a fraction of women rethinking their need to work, ever came to pass, what effect will it have on our professional and social structure?

  3. Anjali, what you have said is so true, that I shudder to think about the far-reaching repercussions.

    After the Law intern complained about her molestation, the first murmurs were those of, “Lets not hire any more women.” And that too, in the highest institution in the land.

    So, in addition to piercing the glass ceiling, we will have to vindicate our very presence in the workplace…..the equivalent of breaking down the glass doors as well.

  4. trust me, on that i have heard many a men verbally abuse the whole woman clan and term them as distracting agents in office environment. Why on earth isn’t the man questioned on not being able to handle his hormones and the women r branded as the gender which has only task of pleasing and seducing males. its a shame! terrible upbringing that our families have given to these men.

  5. Suchi,
    Gender sensitization is just a phrase being bandied about. When the men in the family of a growing child do not treat the women with dignity , when the peers in school and neighborhood around a teen do not give the girls with respect and when the authority figures in politics and the media behave with impunity, there is a growth of chauvinism and a sense of entitlement.
    The only “good news” is that there is an increasing number of women coming forward to speak out, and thus the awareness of the people affected , need for action/laws against such crimes and support systems for victims will perhaps evolve.

  6. Very well written n true, completely agree with you.

  7. Pingback: The Tehelka sexual harassment case and Women's Empowerment

  8. Pingback: How society convinces victims of sexual assault to keep quiet

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