Media condemns Tehelka sexual assault case

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: The Indian media Thursday strongly condemned the alleged sexual assault on a woman journalist by Tehelka magazine’s editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal.

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    Terming the allegations against Tejpal as “shocking and shameful”, Editors’ Guild of India said in a statement: “Such incidents anywhere are condemnable in the strongest terms but the Guild is particularly saddened that they should engulf a media organisation.”

    “The conduct that has been alleged would constitute grave sexual assault at the very least taking advantage of the authority and power of the perpetrator within the media organisation.

    “It also brings out vulnerability of young women journalists who need to be protected and free to pursue their careers without the fear of being subjected to such assaults,” Guild president N. Ravi said.

    “Self-proclaimed atonement and recusal for a period are hardly the remedies for what the allegations show to be outright criminality. The full force of the law must be brought into its investigation and prosecution,” he said.

    The Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) also strongly condemned the incident.

    “Against the backdrop of this recent complaint of sexual assault and as an increasing number of women join the media force, the IWPC feels that media houses and organisations should take corrective measures, including setting up pro-active internal complaints committees,” it said.

    It also urged the magazine to set up an inquiry committee to investigate the complaint made by the journalist. “If found guilty, suitable action should be taken against the perpetrator.”

    The Delhi Union of Journalists said: “Tarun Tajpal’s statement admitting a ‘lapse of judgement’, and his self-declared sabbatical from editorship both confirm the allegation.”

    “It is clear that he stands in breach of the law. The survivor is reported to be both the daughter of a friend as well as his own daughter’s close friend. For her, this is also a case of breach of trust as it is a betrayal by someone who stands in her parents’ place,” it said.

    Asserting that it was “horrified” to hear of the incident, the Press Club of India said: “This is a slur on the name of Indian journalism which has many shortcomings but making the workplace unsafe for women was not supposed to be one of them.”

    “The compact between editors and their journalist colleagues to maintain a healthy, non-discriminatory, and gender-wise equal and respectful working environment is critical to the growth and practice of journalism in the country,” the PCI said in a statement.