Monday, November 25, 2013

Devinder Sharma on Tehelka episode

The Tehelka episode has certainly lifted the lid on one of the best kept secrets of our society. It's not only in media establishments, but it's a fact that the sordid happenings are kept under wraps across every establishment. While what happened in Tehelka case is deplorable (and very disturbing) and I am sure the law will take care of it, but there are certain other things that need to be taken care of instead of drowning the entire issue in angry outbursts. Rather than just shouting, it's time to sit back, think and come out with measures that can go a long way in social reforms (in this case, beginning with the office/workplace). 

1. As Sucheta Dalal says it very succinctly in her tweet: "Let's also face it, one reason for silence in the media is that "mutual consensual relationships" have propelled many media careers!" Now, isn't that true? Why only the media, it's happening everywhere. If yes, then how do you separate the grain from the chaff? Let's have the courage to accept the ground realities, and make a genuine effort to reform the work space. For every single case of sexual harassment there an equal number of cases where "mutual consensual relationships" have helped propelled careers for both the sexes.

2. Yesterday, a friend shared something which is not very unusual. He narrated an embarrassing story of how he happened to be in the office of a editor when one of his lady colleagues walks in and says: "Sir, aaj main kaisi lag rahi hoon !" Similar examples exist aplenty. Can anyone tell me in such a situation should the editor (or the office in-charge) go and report it to the police? And what if he does so? Forget the police, even if a colleague brings this to the notice of the management, it will be only drowned in laughter.

3. Remember the film Disclosures (1994) starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore? If it happened in real life, all sympathies would have been with Demi Moore. The reality would have never come out. But is that fair? Is that justice? Why can't the shouting brigade of human rights activists/women activists/media commentators ever point out to the urgent need to provide exemplary punishment in false cases? And at the same time, bring in adequate checks/laws to ensure that in every such case the accused does not have to be only a male. It can be a female too.

4. And finally, media is screaming about sexual harassment in office. But at the same time it can't ignore its own role in encouraging office romance. There is hardly a week when you don't see cover stories on office romance and how to make it possible. Isn't there a thin line that divides the two? Or are we patiently waiting for the office romance to go sour, and then wait for the charges to fly. I agree, most of us will then derive pleasure going through the juicy details just like the way some newspapers/social media sites/TV channels are reconstructing the Tehelka story.
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