Ever since Tarun Tejpal, founder-editor of Tehelka, was arrested in November 2013 for the ‘rape’ of a junior colleague in a Goa resort, there has been plenty of debate on whether what he is accused of doing constitutes rape. With the police formally charging him so under seven sections of the new law that came into force last April, the public is taking its first good look at these provisions. The question being asked in some circles: is a 10-year prison sentence for three minutes of non-penile misconduct in a moving lift taking things too far?
Blame it on ignorance or plain incomprehension, it is this overturning of the old order that has led to the tch-tching over Tejpal’s plight—that what he did was not rape in the classical sense of the term; that rape is necessarily penile, or at least truly physically violent. Like what happened to Nirbhaya, the intern who was raped and brutalised in a bus in Delhi in December 2012. Or to the women in Muzaffarnagar who went to a pradhan’s house and were subjected to rape. Or what Soni Sori underwent at the hands of the Chhattisgarh police. Or what scores of women suffer in Kashmir, Manipur or other disturbed areas, where special armed forces laws are in force.
The new law expands the old definition of rape to include a series of acts. It might be said that it serves as a measure of the scale of violence against women. For instance, Section 354 of the IPC now has an additional clause, 354(a), which states that if a man seeks physical contact and makes advances, involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, makes a demand or request for sexual favours, shows pornography, or makes sexually coloured remarks, it is a straight case of sexual harassment and shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or be levied with a fine, or both. In the 2,846-page chargesheet, Tejpal has been slapped with 354(a) too, based on his admission in an e-mail sent to the young woman and the former managing editor of Tehelka, Shoma Chaudhury, in which he apologises for attempting a sexual liaison. This is apart from six other sections, including the one with the new definitions of rape under the various Section 376 clauses.
It is the charge of rape brought against Tejpal that is seen as problematic by many who contest its clauses as too severe. Again, the law states that a man is said to commit rape if he penetrates a woman with his penis or any object or manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration. The punishment for this is imprisonment for no less than 10 years. The law also says the consent of the woman has to be unequivocal. It is in the context of consent that the law is unambiguous. Her consent has to be absolute: if she does not physically resist the act of violative penetration, it does not follow that consent has been given. It is also here that the law takes note of positions of power and authority. Tejpal has admitted to attempting a sexual liaison as an “awful misreading of the situation”. The law leaves little scope for misreading a woman’s intention and also categorically puts the onus on the man to show that consent obtained was absolute and also does away with the “conduct” of the victim.
It’s in the quantum of punishment that senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, counsel in the Delhi gangrape case, raises issues about. “To make a law more detrimental, to my mind, is not the right approach and creates problems in the context of the underpinning of criminal law—presumption of innocence. It might lead to a situation where every judge will say he will err on the side of acquittal.” Krishnan is however clear that in a more expansive definition of sexual assault, it is right that the law is from a woman’s perspective. Clearly, the new law calls for a behavioural change from men and cautions them against transgressing it.
By Anuradha Raman with Panini Anand
Harking back to an old story by Anuradha Raman (Define, Refine, Redefine, Mar 3). No doubt, the laws with respect to sexual harassment or sexual offences against women have to be very stringent to have a deterrent effect. But at the same time, these laws should not have any loopholes for misuse. And in its present avatar, there’s plenty of scope for misuse.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
38 D Ramki
* Did you read Telehlka ?
* Do you know what kind of views Tejpal had
* Did you read Telehlka ?
* Do you know what kind of views Tejpal had
Both your questions are immaterial to the jail sentence - which is from a draconian law, used to incarcerate yet another male.
Having said that, however,MRAs would rejoice, if Tejpal is sentenced to 10 years like the rest of us males should be, according to the new laws.
The shock should serve these male-hating journalists right.
Communalist >> Tejpal's greatest crime is to be outspokenly secular.
So if someone who is secular and supporter of CON party sexually assaults your mother or spouse or daughter, you would find nothing wrong in it !
Steven Boyd >> Tejpal has become a victim in the eyes of all good men.
HE IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY IN A FAIR TRIAL.
HEAR, HEAR the Elevator Rapist Fanboy Speaking HERE !!!
Amusing (to say the least )!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pramod >> Would Anuradha Raman ask this question if it was not Trun Tejpal, but someone from..., lets say RSS?
HELLO, HELLO OUTLOOK AND THE ELEVATOR RAPIST FANS OUT HERE .. Have you read the above question? Answer this if you OUTLOOK FEUDALS really have guts...
Misogynist >> However, the chaddi washers are not good at debates of ANY kind.
Two questions (not related to Modi or BJP or religion) for you:
* Did you read Telehlka ?
* Do you know what kind of views Tejpal had on the laws that you condemn namely women's reservation bill and more importantly the Domestic violence act enacted by the beloved Saint Sonia Government ?
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