Eve-teasing : Don't get 'used' to it!
It is a day-to-day occurrence in most cities and villages of India when a woman is subjected to lecherous stares, lewd comments or uncomfortable physical contact. It is even shameful is that in India, girls and women are continually subjected to such unjust treatment.
Quite an alarming issue in the metropolitan cities, it is indeed sad that women in India, and probably across the world especially in developing nations with less stringent rules, have to put up with this form of aggression, which is a form of perversion and sexual harassment. Be it in public transport, streets, offices and public places, groping and molestation have become such commonplace incidents that women now consider it as a part of their life once they step out of their homes. Students as well as working women have almost become accustomed to sexually suggestive remarks, catcalls, groping, brushing in public places, etc. However, the women, at large, need to realize that this is an infringement of their fundamental rights, and it tarnishes their integrity. Besides, it can also leave deep psychological scars on her mind, which might be difficult to overcome. Such offenders mostly get away which only encourages more and more evil-minded men to cast a disrespectful eye at women.
Though ‘eve teasing’ is not an official term according to the Indian law, victims can appeal for justice through Section 298 (A) and (B) of the Indian Penal Code. According to these sections, any individual who is found to be guilty of making a girl/woman subject to obscene comments, gestures or other such acts can be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three months, or fine, or both. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has also proposed Eve Teasing as one of its legislations in the year 1988. Over the years, there have been many public awareness campaigns, committees, special privileges for women (such as the Ladies Special Trains in Mumbai, and ladies compartments in trains) in order to improve the situation for women.
However, in addition to such large-scale measures, at an individual level too, a woman should be bold enough to stand up for her rights, in order to preserve her dignity. Being trained in self-defence techniques definitely helps, as does immediate presence of mind, such as calling someone for help or exposing the offender publicly by drawing the attention of others nearby. Perhaps most women feel too apprehensive to raise her voice that allows perverts to cross the limit. In fact, very recently, many colleges are coming up with special cells to deal with the menace of growing eve-teasing cases. The concerned officials are of the opinion that it will not only help to minimise the cases, but also lend support to those that have dealt with the trauma. Public education, aimed at every section of the society, can go a long way in this direction.
It is of utmost need to uproot the causes that plague women’s safety and security. The attitude of people that holds ‘nothing much can be done about it’ should be changed, or this will continue to pester our society. Why is it that only major cases are brought to public notice and the day-to-day incidents of eve-teasing are overlooked? If this issue is addressed with due care both at an individual and government level, it can be done away with. It is after all, related to the larger cause of promoting gender equality. If eve-teasing continues to prevail in our “civilised” societies, girls as well as their families and dear ones will be anxious about their free movement. We need active solutions, rather than passive attitudes, and the hypocrisy that clamours for women’s rights but themselves allow a breach of her rights by committing or suffering such degraded acts.