The Rights Of The Victim

The rights of a rape victim include the right to have her privacy respected. Let us curb our ghoulish curiously about the Tehelka episode

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?

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