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The young Tehelka journalist who accused her boss Tarun Tejpal of sexually assaulting her earlier this month at a Goa hotel resigned on Monday, saying she was “deeply traumatized by the lack of support offered by the organization”. Tehelka’s photo editor Ishan Tankha, one of the people the young woman confided in immediately after the alleged assaults, also resigned on Monday evening.
In her resignation letter, emailed to Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and a handful of senior editors, the young woman reiterated that she is not satisfied with the measures taken by Chaudhury to address her trauma.
“Given the sequence of events since the 7th of November, it is not just Mr Tejpal who has failed me as an employer — but Tehelka that has failed women, employees, journalists and feminists collectively,” the journalist wrote. Chaudhury refused to respond to calls and text messages asking if the young woman’s resignation has been accepted.
Expressing hurt at the way Chaudhury let her down despite promising to do the “right thing”, the young woman says in her letter: “His (Tejpal’s) public acknowledgement of the apology did not include any reference to his grievous sexual misconduct, and you had still failed to set up an anti-sexual harassment cell as per Vishaka guidelines. This could, in no way, have left me satisfied… You continued to ignore my rebuttals to these emails, while insisting, in public, that I was satisfied.”
The young woman further writes: “Over the past years, we have collectively defended the rights of women, written about custodial rape and sexual molestation at the workplace.”
“We have spoken out harshly against the culture of victim blame and the tactical emotional intimidation and character assassination of those who dare to speak out against sexual violence… at a time when I find myself victim to such a crime, I am shattered to find the Editor in Chief of Tehelka, and you — in your capacity as Managing Editor— resorting to precisely these tactics of intimidation, character assassination and slander,” she wrote.
The Goa police that is investigating the case said that it will take the young woman to Panjim on Tuesday to record her statement.