It’s always the same story.. As soon as a lady steps out of her house onto the road to start her hectic day until she steps back into her house in evening she is constantly the victim of the social menace… EVE TEASING!! The Wikipedia defines eve teasing as “a euphemism used in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve.“
All of us have experienced this so many times in our life. A girl/lady walk from her house to the bus stop and in that short distance she encounter so many groups of guys entertaining her with so many wonderful songs like “Aati kya khandala” or “Kilipenne” or some such popular Hindi, English, Tamil or Malayalam number.. Enduring all this, the lady moves to the bus stop where another gang is waiting with their songs and comments. Someone may even ask her whether she needs company till wherever she is going. Finally after what seems like ages the bus arrives. She struggles hard to get into the bus without having to rub against the bus-cleaner who is intentionally standing in her way. Inside the bus the condition is even worse. She has to tolerate a drunken man who is so happily trying to lean on her. And then when she gets a seat some elderly man might sit next to her and she shrinks herself to the end of the seat in order to avoid his attempts to sit so close to her. Maybe to make things all the more worse she might have to catch an auto to reach her destination after this grueling bus ride. She gets into the auto and the auto driver adjusts the rear view mirror to focus on her. All throughout the journey she tries hard to ignore his suggestive smiles and gestures through the mirror. She reaches her destination, pays the horrible driver taking immense care that he doesn’t get a chance to touch her hand while she does so,, This is how a woman’s day starts!!. So much of torture in public places, streets, buses and so many other places!! Thanks to the Lord who has given woman immense tolerance and patience. Or else I can’t think about what would have happened! This is such a common occurrence that we women consider it as a curse to be born as a girl. The man who eve teases the woman for the pleasure of just a few seconds doesn’t realize (or maybe doesn’t even care) about the amount of torture and pain he and his fellow beings are subjecting the fairer sex to.
Eve teasing has become the deceptively inoffensive name for the offensive sexual harassment that most Indian women have to brave daily. Sometimes I feel that it’s the feeling of helplessness by ladies which encourage men to continue harassing us. But then who has the daring to stand up for her rights? I’ll tell you the mentality of a woman. We try our best to avoid unnecessary problems in our already troublesome life.. We won’t think of confronting a man who is misbehaving with us. Instead we move away from the place or try to save ourselves silently. We feel that if we react to the situation and maybe shout at the man he might follow us with maybe a few more friends and then the situation goes out of our control. It’s the physical superiority of the man which gives him the guts to misbehave with ladies.
This is an incident which I read : This is about eve-teasing death of a girl, due to torture meted out to her in a far off town , away from her home, where she had gone for studying.
That teenage girl by name Muthuselvi, was studying in the XIIth standard. Some youths had photographed her in their cell camera and were black mailing her. It is said that they were threatening to mix some obscene photographs of women, with Muthuselvi’s face and put it in the net. The girl did not realize that the threat was only a hollow one and that it was made only to embarrass and blackmail her and nothing more.
Muthuselvi is just one example. Eve-teasing deaths of innocent girls are happening in every part of our country. It is discomforting that even after the enactment of strict laws, by the governments, the menace is continuing.
What sin had that innocent girl done to lose her life? Before her suicide, the fatherless girl had conveyed to her mother, while at home, in a village, in Tirunelveli District, earlier, about the torture by some youths. Her mother who is an agricultural worker perhaps failed to grab the magnitude of the problem faced by her daughter. She sent back Muthuselvi to the hostel, where she was staying, after consoling her. For the last time of course!
After some days, a dull Muthuselvi, who returned home, hanged herself up!
The youths had done the blackmailing for fun but see the consequence… This is a common happening in our country though only a few cases are reported. There are incidents across the country where the girls how have stood up against eve teasing have been cruelly dealt with. We have read about so many cases where acid has been poured on the girl’s face for reporting incidents to the police etc. There is legislation for the protection of women but if it’s efficient enough the cases of eve teasing would have decreased within so many years. Each time I become the victim of eve teasing in one form or the other I think what could be the best remedy but till date I’ve not been able to find any efficient solution other than ignore the situation. It’s easy for me to say so because I’ve not been victimized to serious eve teasing like the incidents we read in newspapers where even the girl’s life is at risk.
Possible remedies are:
- Try to avoid situations where you’ve to travel alone during late hours. And if it’s unavoidable try to travel in a reliable auto or through roads which you know well.
- Wear decent and unrevealing dresses. Actually I heard this being suggested by a man in a public discussion. But shouldn’t men be ashamed to say that they have so less decency that they can’t help commenting or touching a lady who is dressed in a bit revealing manner? But that line was for the men. J. It’s my personal experience that men tend to involve in eve teasing women who are dressed awkwardly than girls in a normal salwar kameez. Not that the decently dressed girls are safe!!
- If the disturbance of men cross the limit in buses or public places try telling your problem to the women standing near you. If we women are united we can put a stop to such social menaces to a very large extent. But I’ve also had personal experiences where other women have blamed the poor girl instead of supporting her. I’ve also been part of incidents where the young men in the bus have come to the rescue of the girl even when women blamed the girl. Kudos to those good men!
- Be prepared to call the Police Help line once the situation goes out of control. Have the help line numbers of the police wing which deals with eve teasing stored in your mobile phones and don’t hesitate to use it when needed. (Yes.. It’s true. The police have an eve teasing wing).
- Sometimes a stare or a loud exclamation also works. Many of the regular eve teasers are cowards. They don’t like to get noticed. It’s the silent endurance of girls which encourages them and the moment we tell them to STOP they move away due to fear of being noticed by others.
- Be confident and be conscious of your surroundings. Don’t be a day dreamer on streets or other public places. Be conscious but there is no need to have that worried look on your face. You can afford to be confident. Don’t look lost even when you actually are.
These are remedies which I found out from my own personal experiences. We should be aware that there are women groups like ‘Alternative Law Forum’, ‘Blank Noise’, ‘Maraa’, ‘Samvada’ and ‘Vimochana’ to help women. If the matter is really serious approach them for advice and help. The protection through legislation can only be done by our government. The government should also take interest to keep public places and public transport well lit to avoid giving men the shield of darkness to sexually harass women.
Women are also part of the society and we have the right to lead a life just like men. Even if a woman follows all the suggestions stated above it’s the men who have to be socially enlightened enough to treat women as their fellow beings and not as materials for their enjoyment. So dear men… Be decent!! Just like you would not want your own sister, mother, wife or daughter to be harassed treat all other women decently too… It’s you who can easily put a stop to this menace.