Breaking the Code of Silence
| Case Code: BECG151
Case Length: 11 Pages
Pub Date: 2018
Teaching Note: Available
| Price: Rs.400
Themes: Ethics, Giving Voice to Values, Sexual Harassment
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts
Nina was a young promising journalist in her twenties who had been working for Tehelka since January 2010. The young reporter was also a qualified yoga instructor. She did her schooling from Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in New Delhi and then studied philosophy at St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi. She used to write for WorldSpace radio's web journal, The Voice. Before joining Tehelka, Nina worked for a short period of time as chief coordinator for an international poetry festival with Lalit Kala Akademi, an organization that promoted art...
It all began on November 7, when Nina, who was a part of the THiNK Fest, 2013, was specifically assigned to chaperone well-known Hollywood actor Robert De Niro (De Niro) and his daughter Drena De Niro (Drena) who were among the guests invited for the fest at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Goa. According to Nina, as it was De Niro and his daughter’s first night in Goa and at the festival, Tejpal accompanied De Niro, his daughter Drena, and Nina, to De Niro’s suite situated in Block 7 on the 2nd floor of the hotel to wish them goodnight. After taking leave of them, Nina and Tejpal left the suite and came out of the lobby of Block 7 on the ground floor. According to Nina, Tejpal then put his arm around her shoulders and told her, "Let's go wake up Bob [De Niro]". Though she asked him why he wanted to go back, she trusted Tejpal's intentions completely and entered the elevator with him....
The Second Time
Despite the shocking incident, Nina decided to remain calm and collected and went about her duties the following day as she feared losing her job. The next morning, on November 8, 2013, she went to work. "I was confused, hurt, and really, really scared. At that point I did not want to lose my job. And so the next morning, I went about my work determined not to give Mr Tejpal or Tehelka a reason to fire me, as I was sure they would do once this story got out," she said. During the course of the work in the day, Nina discussed the events of the previous night with her friends who were really concerned about her, particularly after they had seen the condition she had been in the previous night. After work, at about 8:00 p.m.,...
The Next Few Days
The next morning (day 3), Nina called her mother and told her everything that had happened. By then, everyone was worried about her safety and advised her to leave the fest as soon as possible. However, Nina assured them that she felt safe as her work for the day involved staying away from Tejpal and spending time with De Niro and his daughter at a beach in a completely different part of Goa. She told them that she would leave the THiNK Fest as soon as her duties were over....
Trials and Tribulations....
According to analysts, though sexism and sexual abuse exist in all cultures, in Indian society, the problem of gender inequality was deeply rooted across all classes, castes, and communities. While boys were considered prized possessions, a female child was often seen as a burden on families. Some sections of society even resorted to sex selection and aborted female foetuses, though it was illegal. They opined that in Indian society, a sexual crime was often under-reported mainly because of reasons such as loss of livelihood, traumatising legal procedures, social stigmatization, guilt, discouragement from families and friends, the desire to preserve personal space and dignity, and the fear of being isolated at the workplace...
...But Finding a Voice
As a journalist who in all her writings, had always urged women to speak out and break the silence that surrounded sexual crime, Nina found herself at the crossroads. Nina felt that Tejpal was capable of anything, even of taking her life, but that ultimately, she would not be able to face herself if she kept quiet, giving the accused an opportunity to repeat the offence...
Exhibit I: Business Empire of Tarun Tejpal (as of December 2013)
Exhibit II: Regulations Under the New Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013
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