Increasing number of eve teasing in urban places in India compelled the local authorities to take a serious look into the problem. The growing instances of the murders, of women for rejecting the love of the man had rocked the nation and now the serious thought is given on the reasons for these crimes.
The expression “eve teasing” is Indian origin, the word is not found in the dictionaries. And native speakers of English don’t use it.
As per the popular idea the expression eve teasing is a euphemistic in post-colonial India and refers largely to sexual harassment of women in public places, where a women is an “eve “ temptress who provoke men into states of sexual titillation. This popular perception of sexual harassment posits the phenomena as a joke where women are both a tease and deserve to be teased.
Growing incidents like a bike pulling up at college bus stop and the man on the bike shouting lewdly at a college girl, come with me –Rs 300 for night; a car loaded with men pulls out of a driveway of a market shouts at a woman- do you need a ride-we will take you where ever you want and pay for it; the woman gets humiliated and outraged. The laughing and passing lewd remarks of an eve teaser can leave a permanent psychological mark on a woman.
Studies show that 32 percent of the eve teasers are students, 35 percent are anti-socials while the 33 percent are middle-aged men.
An increasingly large number of college going girls and other women taking public transportation in all metropolitan cities in India have resorted to carrying pins, pen-knives and even daggers as a deterrent. Others have taken self-defense classes and don’t hesitate to hit.
In India, every 51minutes a woman is sexually harassed; every 21 minutes one woman is molested. Eve teasing is something that a woman has to contend with everyday. So what is it with Indian men and eve teasing? Is it the frustration of sex or just another mode of fun?
According to a recent article by a popular actress about eve teasing, the cause of this horrific behavior is the images being splashed across the media. I can partially agree with her. Indian movies and advertisements play a major role in propagating and encouraging this behavior. Many Bollywood movies depict scenes of eve teasing, showing this behavior as a way to win a woman’s heart. Others show this as a behavior for men indulge in some fun at a woman’s expense of course.
Many psychologists believe that sex; love or fun is not the only motive that the men indulge in this behavior. Eve teasing is closely related to the patriarchal mindset of Indian male. Men are raised to believe that they are more powerful- physically and emotionally than women. They feel that they are doing nothing wrong- having some fun. Women on the other hand are made to feel vulnerable and the weaker sex.
Around the world, women have to reclaim their spaces and rights on the streets, public spaces, schools, transportation, cyber cafes (w/o other customers viewing disturbing images in the next seat), and and google searches on the internet. Many women face restrictions on their access to education, streets, and finding a secure space in a Cyber cafe and internet.
Around the month of September-October last year, Raisa Baig, 18, a student of Mass Media had to spend three hours at the police station in South Mumbai to lodge a complaint against a man who physically touched her intentionally when she was commuting to college by bus. When she was struggling with the molester, not a single fellow traveler came to her rescue and she had to fight it out single-handedly. This happened in a Muslim dominated area and the victim and culprit both were Muslims.
Most people, including the woman herself, feel that lewd stares, songs, obscene words and threats are not “as bad” as rape. As the reaction of co-passengers and police highlight, there is a hierarchy of violence where some offenses are more acceptable and treated as “normal.” This is a fallacy that ignores what a woman faces every time she leaves the house, bracing herself for any such abuse. Every woman has the right to safe travel.
Women must realise that it is not “their fault” that such crimes occur. “Often we are made to feel ashamed, and therefore made to maintain silence when we do face abuse. We are blamed by authorities, perpetrators and on-lookers alike for, say, our clothes, daring to go out at night, traveling on a train alone and so on,” Raisa had said.
Why Raisa took the trouble of confronting the culprit at the grave risk? “By recognizing that this stigma is constructed, and by speaking out against it, I wanted to identify the attitude of the culprit that humiliated and victimized me. Only through highlighting the occurrence and extent of the phenomenon will the appropriate authorities take responsibility and act,” she had said.
It’s a real shame that in spite of the amount of development happening all around the world, the so called “civilized world” behaves in an “uncivilized manner” with the fairer sex. Cannot the Government or the law makers take real stringent steps against these crimes? Just penning down rules will not help. What is required is real action.