Can’t Be Carrying the Burden of Years of Patriarchy: Karan Oberoi

Karan Oberoi talks about the support he’s received from his friends and family. 

Updated
Celebrities
5 min read

Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan
Cameraperson: Sanjoy Deb
Asst Cameraperson: Gautam Sharma

Actor and singer Karan Oberoi was imprisoned for over a month when a woman accused him of rape on 5 May. In the latest developments in the case, Oshiwara Police in Mumbai found that the woman had orchestrated an attack on her about two weeks ago with the help of her lawyer.

The complainant has been arrested and will be facing charges of filing a false complaint against the actor. But the complainant has reportedly denied the claims and alleged that it is her own lawyer who has framed her.

The complainant had filed FIR against Karan Oberoi at Oshiwara Police Station in Mumbai under sections 376 (rape) and 384 (extortion) on 6 May. In it, she alleged that Oberoi had duped her under the pretext of marrying her and had raped her, filmed the act and threatened to release the video unless she paid him the money he demanded.

We also spoke with Oberoi about the ‘Men Too’ movement that started after he was accused of rape.

“As per the NHRC survey, I read somewhere that 50% of the cases in this sort of a case are fake. And there are other 20-25% that are settled out of court. So, it’s almost become a tool of vendetta or manipulation or extortion, and those cases were there in the prison where people were suffering and they didn’t have anyone to support them. And in all of this what we have seen is ‘Men Too’.”
Karan Oberoi

(Disclaimer: The statistic being referred to was published by the Delhi Commission for Women in 2014, not the National Human Rights Commission. The report also arrived at the 52% figure of false rape claims, BBC reported, by assuming that all the cases that were dropped before making it to court were false, without analysis of why they were dropped – making no distinction between cases where the complainant was lying, or cases where complainants were pressured to drop charges.)

The Quint spoke with Karan Oberoi regarding the case and the support he has got from his family and friends.

There has been immense support that’s come your way. What has your family and friends’ take on this entire case been?

They were my rock of Gibraltar to be honest. And I always tell people that I hope everyone is as fortunate to have a Pooja Bedi in their lives. A friend that stands through testing times. And especially in cases that large people do not want to stand next to you because…But I was one of the very few blessed ones who had overwhelming support not just from my family but also friends and everyone who I had met remotely, even ones in passing, in the past 15-20 years.

Did you ever personally feel that I should take a step back and think about what’s gone down? Should I have done things differently?

You know, when you do things you think of them differently. When you don’t do something, you’re only wondering as to what went wrong, how did it turn out to be this way? Because if it can happen to me it can happen to any human being on the planet. Who’s safe? And my story was one. But within the jail premises there were six hundred other stories of people who are suffering a lot more than I am. I was fortunate that I had the support of so many people. But they are voiceless, nameless people. They don’t have the money or the media support or the whereabouts of how to exonerate themselves.

Are you saying that a lot of people are in jail for no fault of theirs?

Yes, yes. That’s exactly what I am saying. So as per the NHRC survey, I read somewhere that 50% of the cases in this sort of a case are fake. And there are other 20-25% that are settled out of court. So, it’s almost become a tool of vendetta or manipulation or extortion, and those cases were there in the prison where people were suffering and they didn’t have anyone to support them. And in all of this what we have seen is ‘Men Too’.

When ‘Me Too’ came out there were so many women talking about their experiences. And with ‘Men Too’ do you think the terminology could have been different? What’s your take on ‘Men Too’?

‘Me Too’ was one of the most wonderful movements because it brought out all the stories that we’re not told. It also acted as a deterrent to the men in power. I had written a massive, very strongly worded blog supporting ‘Me Too’. And unfortunately, I was also a victim of ‘Me Too’ as a boy. I have been a feminist all my life. I believe in the power of expression and I believe in complete equality. As far as ‘Men Too’ is concerned, you have to understand… ‘Men Too’ is not ‘Men Too VS Me Too’. When you talk about justice, it’s justice for all. And that’s what justice represents by definition. You’re saying no man, woman or animal should be incarcerated for something they haven’t done. When someone’s heart breaks and they are crying and howling at a high pitch you can’t tell if that’s a man or a woman.

You can only understand and empathise with the pain they are going through. I know there’s been five thousand years of patriarchy. I think history hasn’t been kind to women. But yes, there are men like me and there are many men like me who believe that we need to fight for both men and women. I can’t be carrying the burden of five thousand years of patriarchy and suffering for something that I haven’t done. You know, when you meet someone or talk to them there is a sense that tells you whether they are speaking the truth or not. The criminals there would look at me and say that “Karan, we are criminals. We can identify if someone has done something from a mile away.” So, they were the ones who put me in touch with the boys. And I spoke to them and saw tears in their eyes. It was evident… They were not there because they had done something. System was manipulated and the law was manipulated for settling personal vendetta.

For cases that came in the last year too, a lot of times lines are blurred. So you think there were any red flags for you?

I don’t know of any. You know lines could be blurred because it’s he said, she said sort of a situation. But you know, between friends you have misunderstandings. Between couples you have a misunderstanding. In marriages, you have misunderstandings. But, you still have to speak the truth. You have to represent the truth of what it is. Because I don’t like you and I can’t get along with you can’t be the reason for me to use the biggest and most heinous thing that happens to most human beings…use that as a tool to destroy a life. I am completely for the death penalty for any proven rapist. But don’t use that as an equation to incarcerate and make someone else suffer. A relationship not working out, a friendship not working out -a misunderstanding cannot be termed rape.

Any particular learning from this?

One of the things that I realised is that I can be slightly strong in the way I say things. I am very soft in nature. I could have taken a stronger stand. And not using profanity but still said. That’s a lesson that I learnt. If I don’t agree with you, go away. Because it carried on for too long. I should have been very strong. I was being too much of a gentleman and too polite and decent. Thank you so much for speaking with us Karan.

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