Humiliated and hurt: Tehelka assault victim resigns

The victim tendered her resignation to Shoma Choudhury saying that the organisation failed to stand by her. This failure is completely on Shoma’s shoulders.

Just two days ago, the writer of this article wrote a column on how the victims of sexual assault should handle themselves post trauma at workplace. However, all practical measures and conventional steps start to appear meaningless once you are in that position. As old saying goes, saying is easy than doing.

The Tehelka rape victim resigned from her office today. She tendered her resignation by e-mail to her managing editor Shoma Choudhury stating that the organization “failed to stand by her side”.

This failure, no doubt, is completely on the shoulder of Shoma Choudhury who was informed about the incident by the victim placing her trust. Not only Shoma failed the victim as her boss, she also failed her as a person.

Shoma reduced the gravity of the case of sexual harassment to a mere ‘untoward incident’. Her later statements made us doubt whether she was the right person from whom the victim had sought help. Briefing the media outside her office, Shoma said that she was ‘not able to absorb’ the incidence and that’s why her choice of words was not sharp, and that it was an ‘internal matter’.

Well, the words which she used even after ‘absorbing’ the incidence for three days showed that she was riding on her own prejudices and was biased toward Tejpal despite being the one from whom the victim sought justice at first. She simply seemed unaware of the implications of her own actions and that of the others in her organization.

Moreover, she sounded wary when other reporters flanked her asking questions about the incident. She said that ‘she thought’ the victim was ‘satisfied’ (what an apt word!) with Tarun’s apology but now it comes out that she is not. Not only that, she also added that she formed a sexual harassment committee ‘after three days’ of the incident, that ‘what more’ the journalists ‘wanted from her’, and that ‘why you are calling it rape’.

By filing an FIR on behalf of the victim, Shoma could have sent a strong signal to all the ‘Tarun Tejpals’ of the world. She had an opportunity to create history and prove that she truly was a leader. She had the opportunity to trash the stereotype that women in position of power would do anything to protect their power; they would do exactly what men in such positions would do.

But Shoma chose to remain silent which silenced all her female colleagues in the industry who would otherwise have come forward with stories about how they were subjected to similar crimes by ‘Tarun Tejpals’ in their own organisations.

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