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Rape victims just want their tormentors to stop

blog1Tarun Tejpal is a famous name in India. He was once regarded as a bold journalist who used sting operations to expose scandals, but he now languishes in jail, accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague while travelling in a lift. Despite the allegations, several notable Indian artists and socialites have come to his side at this time of need. Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is one of them. Kashyap claims to have seen the video footage on which the girl bases her claims of having been sexually assaulted and says he doesn’t think what the girl said was true.

Prominent women activists have condemned Kashyap for his insensitive behaviour. Kavita Krishnan is Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and a well-known speaker of women’s rights. She formulated this strongly-worded post on Facebook and we’ve reprinted it here with her permission.

Mr Anurag Kashyap,

You say “I have seen the CCTV footage too and none of what the girl says about Tarun Tejpal is true”…Who showed you the footage? I and most people havent seen the footage – rightly so, because legally we cant. So is the footage being shown to selected individuals in the media, the film world?
Does the footage show what happened inside the lift? You cite Manu Joseph’s piece in Outlook. That piece, that so insidiously builds sympathy for Tejpal, says about the footage: “Nothing in the young woman’s body language indicates sexually potent conversation…They are not walking hand in hand, rather Tejpal is leading her and she is following him…they are separated by the whole width of the lift, which is about five feet. There is an unhappy tension between them as they walk out….Also there is not a moment in the footage that shows the young woman exhibiting anything resembling physical affection for Tejpal.”
How do I break this to you – rape survivors dont behave like women in the Hindi films…They dont rush out of lifts yelling Bachao (help- ed.)… Yes, they act ‘normal’. Yes, they try to appear as though nothing happened. The more so when the violator is someone they know, trust, and who has power over them (is a family member, family friend, boss, teacher etc…), when the consequence of making the violation public might mean loss of a job, loss of cherished friendships, relationships. No, raped women dont usually use martial arts on their violators, they try to get the trusted person violating them, to stop, they hope the problem will go away, they agonise long and hard about the consequences before they complain. If the father of a friend rapes a woman, if a husband of a friend molests someone, the survivors worry about the impact of the incident on their friend, their friendship. They hope, against hope, that the person will apologise, and stop.
And yes, in my experience, most survivors of gender violence forget or misremember small details – that’s because of the stark, traumatic impact of the LARGE detail of having been raped, of being told that to keep their job they must now subject to sex with the boss, the more so if the rapist is not a stranger but someone known and trusted.
Manu Joseph writes about the ‘fingertips’ sms that it could have been the words of a drunken man who thinks he’s flirting. Yes, arrogant rapists have been known to boast that the woman they raped enjoyed it. Honey Singh’s songs tell us of that mindset quite eloquently. Did the footage as seen by Joseph suggest any flirtation on part of the woman?! No? Tejpal’s own letter admits the woman’s ‘clear reluctance’, and that he invoked his being her boss. He claims he withdrew the latter remark with a clear, cogent statement. If he wants us to believe that’s true, then he clearly wasnt so drunk as to not recognise that she was unhappy and felt imposed upon. AFTER this exchange, how could anyone believe that an sms by Tejpal saying ‘fingertips’ is ‘flirting’?!
The many respondents on your post Mr Kashyap, who say ‘We know the complainant, impossible for her to be raped’ are displaying classic, textbook victim-blaming tactics. No, it’s not ‘impossible’ for ANY woman to be raped – her being modern, emancipated, strong (even learning martial arts) cant be a guarantee that she wont be raped – especially by someone she knows, trusts and who has power over her.
The good part here, Mr Kashyap, is that your macho image of ‘man who makes film to inspire women to take up martial arts to resist rape’ has been taken down – by you yourself. You now stand exposed as a common or garden variety misogynist who thinks it’s the complainant who is ‘the accused’ and who is on trial.

You can read the post on Kavita Krishnan’s Facebook profile.


04.04.2014 | 14:37