How safe are workplaces for women?

A recent court judgement gave a clean chit to a celebrity accused in a rape case. The grounds used to justify the clean chit are disturbing, to say the least.

Indians may recall Tarun Tejpal as the sensational journalist who made a place for himself and his company Tehelka, with his sting operations in 2000. The first such revelation of truth was about a cricket match-fixing scandal.

The guy who projected himself as an upholder of truth and integrity was a #MeToo accused in 2018. He was accused of rape in 2013, by a 23-year old girl, who also happened to be his friend’s daughter.

A court in Goa has now provided him relief in a 527-page judgement. The accused was given access to the victim’s WhatsApp chats of 2012 and 2013. The stand taken is that the rape victim was habituated to holding sexual conversations with many people, and hence, the testimony of the accused was not of sterling quality.

Read the full news item here to understand the gravity of the story.

Tarun Tejpal was given access to the victim’s personal whatsapp messages to build his defence

It highlights certain facts for women in corporate or other professional corridors.


  • Peer pressure or superior pressure eggs on girls to be ‘liberal’ in their conduct. It effectively means overlooking sexual advances to appear cool.
  • There are several instances in the company or industry of rewards being bestowed on those who complied, and of careers destroyed if one dared to speak up.
  • A few young girls do get carried away.
  • The girls are then accused of being promiscuous, untrustworthy, of loose character, or as the judge says ‘not sterling quality’, if they expose wrongdoings of those who hold power.
  • The system supports the man. Patriarchy seems mild compared to this. It is not just subjugation or humiliation, but destruction of women’s lives and careers.
  • What is ‘consensual banter’ for the man, is ‘loose conduct’ for the woman.
  • As the article highlights, Between two courts, the fundamental right of the accused was upheld and the fundamental right of the victim overlooked.

The 527-page verdict may be more an ode to a stinking male-dominated system, than an ode to justice.


  1. Do women give up ambitions and get back to domesticated roles, to keep themselves safe?

2. Are we ever going to have ‘safe workplaces’, which nip the problem in the bud, by instantly punishing errant behaviour?

3. Are we going to name the pressures which an employee works under? Or do we just label acts, conduct and conversations – only to prove it was ‘consent’?

4. Are we going to absorb the involved women back in positions they deserve to be, or make them ‘pariahs’ to employment or work engagement, because they dared to speak? And all this, when the accused men are returning to professional life.

5. Are we making a serious effort to educate people on acceptable conduct and safety norms? Acceptability and unacceptability need to be redefined.

Author: Reena Saxena

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Published by Empowered Women

Empowered Women is an initiative to help women Be and Become

11 thoughts on “How safe are workplaces for women?

        1. Yes. If all start lodging complaints at the right forum, and publicising the misconduct, it may instil fear.

          A negative response observed during #MeToo campaign was that managers expressed reluctance to hire women, to prevent further trouble.

          Liked by 1 person

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