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Goa Court Says Tarun Tejpal Was Acquitted Because The Woman Didn’t Behave Like A Sexual Assault Victim. WTF?

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There are times when you know that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice and while it riles you up, there’s not much you can do about it. I am not going to even try to be subtle. The Tarun Tejpal case. The acquittal of the man, who himself, admitted to crossing the boundaries, is a reflection of the sorry state of affairs of our legal system where the proof of the assault continues to be the victim’s responsibility. Now, news has emerged that the court that acquitted Tarun Tejpal had strong reasons to allow him to roam free, (we say this with a thick smattering of sarcasm) and that it was that the victim did not “act” like a victim.

Look, I get it. We’ve grown up on a staple diet of Bollywood movies where a rape/sexual assault victim almost inevitably decides to end her life because sexual assault is a violation of everything she is- which is pure and virginal. No really, that’s literally what women are reduced to. So the victim in these movies, unlike the survivor of Tarun Tejpal’s unwanted advances, scream into a void, cry dramatically and let this single moment define their entire lives. In Bollywood movies, there is no reason for this woman to exist now that a man has violated her. Now I don’t know if that’s what the court witnessing the Tarun Tejpal trial was expecting but apparently it didn’t follow a script.

 

ALSO READ: Tarun Tejpal Has Been Acquitted In The Sexual Assault Case Against Him. Here’s Why It’s Worrying

It’s appalling that this should be a reason for someone like Tarun Tejpal to be let go but internalised misogyny rears its ugly head in the most unexpected of ways. Additional Sessions Judge Kshama Joshi wrote, “It is extremely revealing that the prosecutrix’s (victim) account neither demonstrates any kind of normative behaviour on her own part – that a prosecutrix of sexual assault on consecutive two nights might plausibly show nor does it show any such behaviour on the part of the accused.”

The survivor in this case had sent a message to Tarun Tejpal revealing her location, something that was seen as a ‘she called this upon herself’ situation. The court noted, “The prosecutrix sending the above message to the accused proactively without any attempt by him to ask her where she was, and her sending the same message thrice in the span of a very few minutes, clearly establishes that the prosecutrix was not traumatised nor terrified of being located or found by the accused and completely belies the prosecution case that immediately before the said messages, the accused had sexually assaulted the prosecutrix again.”

The point about the email sent by Tarun Tejpal was mentioned in court but the court said that there was coercion there (oh the irony) and that it was not willing sent by Tarun Tejpal. That email went out due to the “explicit pressure and intimidation but the then managing director of Tehelka.”

We get that a lot of this case is about he said versus what she said but that the victim’s behaviour did not match up to her claims is literally the weakest argument of them all. And alarming, to say the least. If perhaps the courts could hand out a mandate on how sexual assault victims are to behave to ensure their perpetrator gets convicted, we would be very thankful.

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