#SupremeInjustice: Kavanaugh and Gogoi's episodes show women are rarely heard
The temple of justice, India's Supreme Court, turned out to be a big disappointment in the last couple of days. When SC got a chance to show it isn't blind, it deliberately shut its eyes by exonerating its chief. As a result, women have started wondering how fair "due process" really is. But SC is not the only institution which specializes in shunning women. Its counterpart in the US did so too.
Let's first understand what has happened so far
In case you don't know what's happening, here's a quick recap. A former employee of SC accused one of India's most powerful men, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, of sexual harassment. His first reaction was to hold an unprecedented hearing to dismiss it. When he faced flak, he appointed the senior-most judge, Justice SA Bobde, to conduct an in-house inquiry. The panel exonerated him.
CJI was given clean chit after a shoddy inquiry
The three-judge panel, headed by Justice Bobde and including Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra, said it didn't find any "substance" in the accuser's complaint. This, after the woman sent an affidavit to 22 SC judges. She detailed everything from the abuse to the torture her family faced. Her husband and brother-in-law lost their jobs, and she slipped into depression.
All she wanted was justice. Top court let her down
After the clean-chit to CJI Gogoi, the woman doesn't know if she would ever get justice. Perhaps this was never the panel's priority. After all, the inquiry was informal and judges didn't follow guidelines. The woman, who has a daughter, chose to speak up hoping her story won't go unheard. But when you are up against powerful people, hopes can be dashed too soon.
Last year, Ford was subjected to similar turn of events
The investigation, the woman's character assassination, the claims of a conspiracy, served as a redux to what happened with Christine Blasey Ford in the US last year. Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, had accused Brett Kavanaugh, now a justice at US Supreme Court, of sexual harassment. The incident had taken place some 36 years ago.
Fighting her fear, Ford decided to speak against Kavanaugh
Before Kavanaugh was confirmed as the ninth judge of Supreme Court, he and Ford gave their respective testimonies. At the beginning of the widely televised address, Ford said, "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified." For the next few hours, Ford calmly answered every question. She revealed Kavanaugh harassed her when they were in high school. He pinned her down to a bed and attempted to undress her as other boys laughed.
Kavanaugh displayed anger during his testimony, blamed Democrats
When Kavanaugh was asked to testify, he put up a show, quite literally. While Ford remained composed, Kavanaugh was filled with rage. His facial expressions narrated he was irritated with the entire procedure. He vigorously denied all claims of Ford and claimed his character was assassinated. Even the presence of numerous senators didn't stop him from threatening the Democrats with consequences.
Staring at Kavanaugh, several women said #MeToo
But here's the thing: Ford wasn't Kavanaugh's sole accuser (not that it discredits her story in any way). After she went public with the accusations, Kavanaugh's Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, also alleged him of sexual misconduct. Another woman, Julie Swetnick, alleged that he was involved in the drugging and sexual assault of women at house parties in the 1980s. The stories kept on coming.
Trump wanted Kavanaugh in SC. He achieved his goal
In Ford's case, she wasn't only fighting a future judge of SC, but also President Donald Trump. Increasing the representation of Republicans in SC was one of Trump's biggest promise. Subsequently, when Trump nominated Kavanaugh, to change the 4-4 dynamics between Democrats and Republicans in SC, he put his weight behind the candidate So much so that when Kavanaugh got the top post, Trump "apologized" to his family.
Few Republicans didn't think twice before attacking Ford
To recall, when Kavanaugh-Ford episode was at its peak, some Republicans questioned her intentions. Congressman Kevin Cramer called the allegations absurd and said, "My point is that there was no type of intercourse or anything like that." He added what happened 36 years ago couldn't be used against Kavanaugh. Similarly, Republican Senate candidate Leah Vukmir accused "fake news" of ruining Kavanaugh's chances.
Women lent support to one another, it didn't change anything
And then there was the entire debate of why didn't Ford report sooner. The insensitivity shown towards a sexual abuse survivor started the trend #WhyDidntIReport. Women across the globe explained what stopped them from speaking about harassment. As women stood next to one another, raised slogans, Kavanaugh took an important post in the US. Chances are he might stay there for next 30 years.
Kavanaugh and CJI Gogoi's cases aren't different from one another
A closer look confirms Kavanaugh and CJI Gogoi's incidents aren't so different after all. The onus to prove the claims fell on the accuser in both the cases. Both of them followed the "due process" and it didn't get them anywhere. Like Ford, CJI Gogoi's accuser was also asked why she didn't report the matter sooner. She explained the reason, but to no avail.
Both accused said they were being framed
In both cases, there were talks of a conspiracy. Kavanaugh claimed Democrats were running a smear campaign against him, whereas CJI Gogoi revealed his bank balance to 'prove' he isn't corrupt. CJI Gogoi's complainant said she knew about the conspiracy theories but claimed her story is completely unrelated. She is someone who was allegedly harassed, humiliated, and tortured. Now, she wants normalcy to return.
Protesters are saying 'Gogoi Gotta Go'. But will he?
Like the US, women in India have also taken to streets chanting "Gogoi Gotta Go". But nationwide protests (in which hardly any men are participating) isn't making ripples in top court. CJI Gogoi is continuing with his business, passing judgment, and dismissing pleas. It really has come down to "women against the world" and no amount of outrage seems to be making an impact.