The following is the full text of an online appeal to protect the privacy of the Tehelka journalist whose complaint against the magazine’s editor Tarun J. Tejpal resulted in his “offer” to recuse himself from office for six months.
To all editors, journalists, bloggers, users of social media, and the public:
Some websites and blogs are posting the Tehelka journalist’s complaint to the magazine’s management or reproducing parts of it, perhaps with the intent to expose a grave act of sexual assault by a man occupying a powerful position.
However, in doing so, they are violating basic ethical and legal injunctions on the way cases of sexual assault must be reported.
The journalist’s complaint to her company is a private document and not a public one.
While private documents can be leaked in the ‘public interest’, this principle is applicable to the emails of Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury sent to Tehelka staffers, not to the journalist’s emailed complaint.
In cases of sexual assault, it is a well established principle that the media can name the perpetrator, but not the victim.
The identity and privacy of a victim must be protected at all costs.
We are distressed that many people are circulating the journalist’s emails, and other journalists, bloggers and users of social media are publishing it in parts or whole.
Some have argued that the leaked email has exposed the gravity of the assault, which justifies it coming into the public domain.
While we are determined to report violence against women, we also believe in doing it sensitively.
It is possible to report and comment on sexual crimes without providing explicit accounts that cause additional distress to the victim.
While we stand behind the journalist in her courageous fight, let her choose how she wants her experience reported in public.
In the past week, the journalist has, through her friends, requested several times that her privacy and dignity be protected and that her personal email not be shared.
Please remember that the woman’s private email may be used only with her written consent.
We request all users of social and mainstream media to refrain from infringing on a woman’s privacy.
We request those who have posted such content to remove it immediately. Let us be sensitive as we extend support to the journalist.
If you wish to support the petition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Link via Supriya Sharma