By Alam Bains:
“I.P University Student molested during DUSU rally”
“13 year old girl commits suicide after eve teasing”
“Pregnant woman beaten up for opposing eve teasing”
“Teen killed over eve teasing in Indore”
“Girl molested while travelling in the Delhi Metro”
These are some of the cases of Eve teasing that made headlines, while innumerable similar cases went unnoticed and unheard. Is it a serious crime or a harmless everyday occurrence? Let us find out!
“Eve teasing” has no legal definition and is popularly used as a euphemism for molestation or sexual harassment of women by men in India and a few neighbouring countries. The statistics in this regard are alarming! Every 12 minutes, a woman is sexually harassed in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report 2011, around 45,000 cases of molestation and 9000 cases of sexual harassment were registered, which is a mere eye wash as majority of these cases go unreported. It is commonly said that every Indian woman experiences eve-teasing at least once in her lifetime, almost like a right of passage, and there is no upper limit to this phenomena. It may be a daily ritual or an occasional occurrence.
Totally outraged at and disillusioned by the recent spate of incidents of “eve teasing”, I decided to go around North Campus, Delhi University, Delhi Metro and a few other popular spots to ask people as to what they thought of this and what were the reasons behind it. I went looking for answers and came back with more questions than what I had started with. I was looking for explanations and I did get them but they were no where close to what I had expected. They represent what individual people thought of the issue and are in no way representative of our entire population (hopefully) but I did come back with a really sad picture.
On “Eve Teasing”:
“Yeh toh normal hai. Ismein kya badi baat hai?”– Rickshaw puller, Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station
“Ab yeh toh ladkon ke nature mein hai. Aap ise badal nahi sakte”- Shopkeeper, Bungalow Road
“It is sad, insulting and derogatory. It should be severely dealt with.”- Student, Miranda House
“Yeh toh mazaak hai. Aap log toh har cheez ka mudda bana lete ho.”- Parking Assistant,DMRC Parking
On the reasons behind the increasing cases of “Eve Teasing” and why it happens?
Majority of the people I spoke to blamed the girls, their dressing sense, their behaviour and their progressive thinking, irrespective of the fact that a girl was interviewing them(I had assumed that because of this, people may at least pretend to support the girls).Not for a moment did they hesitate in putting forward their views. Here are some of the reactions:
“In ladkiyon ko toh pasand hai attention, tabhi toh aise kapde pehenti hain jinse ladke inhe notice karein”– Soft drink vendor, North Campus
“Achi ladkiyan kabhi mauka nahin dengi kisi aadmi ko ki unke saath kuch kare”- Waiter at a popular eatery, Kamala Nagar
“Admiyon ki galti nahin hai, unhe agar excite karne ki koshish karengi toh fir nateeja toh bhugatna padega na? Hamari bheno betiyon ke saath toh aisa nai hota kyunki who apne daayre mein rehti hain. Yeh Delhi university ki ladkiyon ko dekho! Kaise kapde pehenti hain! Zada padh likh ke yehi hota hai,dimaag kharab ho jataa hai”– Photocopy Shop Owner, Patel Chest
“Apni safety toh apne haath mein hoti hai. Aap kisi aur koh blame nai kar sakte”-Student, Daulat Ram College
“It’s the Indian Man and his thinking, think of women as some commodity at their disposal.”- Student, Hindu College
On what happened during the DUSU rally :
“What happened during the DUSU rally was unfortunate but you should always try to avoid going out when these things happen! You know the mob mentality!”- Student, Kirori Mal College
“If this would have happened with me, it would have made me an emotional cripple for the rest of my life. It is scary but I have no clue as to what could have been done or what should be done in the future. That was a lot of people! You can deal with one or two but a mob? No way! So the lesson learnt is stay away from the crowd!”- Student, Ramjas College
“I have never heard of a mob attacking a girl like that. Maybe it’s a one off event. Let it be!”- Student, Faculty of Arts
On girls/women being molested and harassed in the general compartment of the Delhi Metro:
“I am not saying that the girls can’t take the general compartment, they can, but the results are for everyone to see. You saw what happened, so if you are sensible enough, you would learn by other people’s mistakes. Why commit the same mistake on your own?”- MNC employee
“See we know how men are and how they behave, so why risk it? I would never try to act so gutsy. It’s foolish!”- Student, Miranda House
“Agar itna apni izzat ka dhyan hai toh ladies compartment mein chadho, kyun aati hain aadmiyon waale compartment mein? Kyunki inhe pasand hai yeh sab”- Passenger on the Delhi Metro
“Ab koi aisa rule toh hai nai ki auratein general compartment mein nai chadh sakti. Hum toh rok nai sakte kisi ko. Par jahan dikh raha hai ki bheed hai, aadmi hi aadmi hai,toh wahaan mat jao.”- DMRC Guard
“I feel really bad about such incidents. Leaves me angry but what to do? How many people can you fight? This sort of behaviour is engrained deeply in the psyche of the average Indian male. Ek- do baar I did try to intervene and stop the offenders but things got out of hand. I want to help but I don’t want to end up like Keenan and Reuben.”- Student, St. Stephen’s College
All said and done, no matter how sad, depressing and regressive these statements may sound, they do show us a picture. A picture of what needs to change! So what is the solution to this? A better definition of eve teasing? More laws on th subject? Better enforcement of the laws? More policemen on the roads? Although it may help, but it would not solve the real problem.
The solution is to change our thinking and our mindsets. As a society we need to send out the message that this kind violence, in any form, is not allow under any circumstances. We need to ensure that the blame falls on the perpetrator and not the victim. And last but not the least, we need to ensure personal accountability. If each and every one of us decides that we will not indulge in this kind of behaviour, it will make a huge difference. The change begins with us.