The Tarun Tejpal alleged rape incident and the subsequent media uproar has turned into a political battleground for parties to spar against each other, so much so that even Tejpal has referred to it in his bail petition as a BJP conspiracy to frame him. Meanwhile, the BJP has spared no chance of accusing Tejpal of being a Congress stooge.
However, this particular incident needs to be looked into as an issue of alleged criminality, and not as a political war between the two leading parties, months before the general election next year.
The focus of the case should be to get justice for the woman journalist who has accused Tejpal of sexually assaulting her. In his correspondence to the woman journalist, Tejpal, who is the founder of Tehelka magazine but has now stepped down from its editorship, has stated that he made advances at her despite her outright refusal to take part in any kind of sexual liaison.
Therefore, the matter really should be about what he allegedly did despite her reluctance to take part in or encourage any kind of sexual relationship.
On the contrary, the voices in social media as well as in Delhi’s political circles are making it into some sort of a political drama.
If this continues, the bigger issues at hand — gender equality and sexual harassment at the workplace — will continue to get ignored and we will land up at square one.
The media, for one, and the society at large — which includes social media — will have to strive to keep the focus on the criminality involved. In addition, what the debate should aim for is a change in male mindsets at the workplace, regardless of the sector.
According to several commentators, sexual harassment at the workplace is a daily, ugly reality women have to face. If that is indeed the case, the
discourse should, among other things, include affirmative action recourse. Or else, we will end up losing this debate too by forgetting the victim, and trumping up political allegations.