The following article is written upon the premise that the accusations made on Tarun Tejpal will turn out to be true. I don’t believe in (social) media trial. Anyhow, reading this article will make Tarun Tejpal more comfortable than other abuses hurled at him.
I didn’t feel like this when the emails first broke out. But now, I am feeling sympathy for Tarun Tejpal. Somewhere deep in my mind, I believe people are being opportunistic in blaming him. That we’re crushing the fallen. Everyone feels righteous in bashing Tejpal for whatever he has done in the past. Nobody finds anything wrong in labelling him the worst person in India right now.
I believe Tarun Tejpal is being punished more than what he deserves.
If this was 2012, what Tejpal did, wouldn’t even be called rape. Only penetration by the penis was considered rape in the past, but now even fingers count.
The new laws on sexual harassment was arguably a naive response to the protests that happened in Delhi. It expanded the definition and maximized the punishment without considering the demerits.
And as of now, I don’t think there are any precedents set by the judiciary in dealing with different kinds of rapes.
The problem with all that is simple. According to the current law, what Tejpal did would be considered equivalent to what all the rapists have been doing to all the poor victims throughout India.
But how do we know Tejpal did intend to rape the victim? What if he was only trying to seduce her?
My argument is not that Tejpal didn’t do any wrong. My argument is that he didn’t wrong as much as other rapists have.
To justify, here’s what English courts say
"there are, broadly, three dimensions to consider in assessing the gravity of an individual offence of rape. The first is the degree of harm to the victim; the second is the level of culpability of the offender; and the third is the level of risk posed by the offender to society."
Do we have any such classification of rapes in India? If Tarun was in England, what category of rape would this have come under?
This part is more philosophical than practical.
Why do we consider rape as an offence graver than corruption, intimidation, or religious atrocities?
When a government officer’s life is threatened and he’s made to do things he isn’t supposed to be doing, isn’t he being violated? Doesn’t that scare last a life time?
When you’re made to pay bribe for something that you deserve free, isn’t someone exerting their authority on you and violating your principles of equality?
And, what makes rape so much different from consensual sex? The only difference between rape and consensual sex is consent. (Yes, I know this sentence is very very wrong when applied to a majority of rape cases. But, in seduction-went-wrong cases like Tejpal’s, I believe this sentence holds true)
When I’m made to pay bribe against my will or “without my consent”, am I not being “raped”?
But the society considers rape differently. The society is scared of rape. It ostracises rape victims. Doesn’t that reveal something wrong with our views of sexuality?