In my post Everybody is human, I had stated one simple truth that many of us ignore at our own peril: the fact that a person is highly educated and/or well-placed and/or wealthy and/or enjoys a good reputation does NOT mean that person will not succumb to the temptation of committing a crime. Little did I know that, less than a week before I had written this post, one Tarun Tejpal had, in his own words “violated that long-standing relationship of trust and respect between” himself and a young lady who happens to be his colleague’s daughter, his colleague and his daughter’s friend by a “shameful lapse of judgement” that led him “to attempt a sexual liaison” with her “on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013,” despite her “clear reluctance that” she “did not want such attention from” him.
The victim has described how, in text messages expressing concern that she had spoken about the attempted sexual liaisons to his daughter, the same Tarun Tejpal had used expressions like “What an absence of any understanding of a parent child relationship” and “Will let time and my love heal what it can”, and “Don’t think I’ve been more saddened in the longest time”.
On the one hand, this man was trying to tell the young woman that she should respect the fact that he is a devoted father with immense concern about his daughter’s feelings. On the other hand, this man had, in his own words, “attempted sexual liaison” with a young woman to whom he was a father-figure despite the young woman’s “clear reluctance”, thus displaying little or no regard for her feelings. This is what most people have found most outrageous about this incident. They say the young woman’s reluctance is immaterial. Even if she had forced herself upon him, he should have had the moral strength to abstain from such a horrible act.
People’s outrage is perfectly justified.
But isn’t there a large element of hypocrisy here?
I’ve come across many teenage boys who are very protective about their own sisters, but who themselves indulged in what they called ‘harmless fun’, but others called ‘eve-teasing’.
I know men who are very concerned about the safety and well-being of women, young and old, in their own families, but who have absolutely no qualms about circulating explicit photographs or videos of other women who are young enough to be their daughters or granddaughters. True, these men have not done what Tarun Tejpal has allegedly done, but this is not because they are morally upright. It’s simply because they have not had the opportunity. If they get the opportunity to do what Tarun Tejpal did, and are reasonably confident that they will not be caught, most men would go ahead.
I’m sure, before this incident came to light, Tarun Tejpal himself would have expressed outrage if another man “attempted sexual liaison” with a young woman to whom he was a father-figure despite the young woman’s “clear reluctance”!
Let us all remember that the high moral ground is very slippery!
Please do share your thoughts.