Guest Author: Monica Chhatwani
India – the country that boasts of its rich culture its values and all the ‘Sanskar’ that it takes pride in, wherein goddesses are worshiped as the destroyers of all evil; the land of legendary women like Rani Lakshmibai, the country with not one but many powerful leading ladies in rule! Aah.. what a feat, right? Makes me feel strong, that yeah our world’s so much for women-power!
And then reality comes in. Does any power really count when starting from eve teasing to molestation, domestic violence and physical assault, there’s so much that women are subjected to each day. Leave aside rape and other serious crimes, eve teasing itself violates a woman’s right to live in dignity, live free. Even young girls are subjected to this form of harassment – which in legal terms is a ‘low priority crime’! Starting from crowded buses, shared autos or metros in our capital Delhi; you’ll find several women subjected to this brutality everyday.
Eve teasing includes use of inappropriate language, any obscene act or gesture in a public place or trying to intrude the privacy of a woman. There are thousands of women who go through immense emotional and physical turmoil by such incidents. Travel in a general compartment in the Delhi metro and you’ll know for yourself, even if you are with your family members. Inappropriate touching taking advantage of the crowd and uttering indecent words are all in your stride. Also as the culprit runs away almost immediately, there’s not much a possibility that you can call the police and hand him over. You’ll talk to it to your family and there’s this advice you get – its best that you forget what happened, there’s no point in making it public, it’ll bring even more insult.
The psychology behind eve teasing is that it happens to everyone, it’s nothing serious; but come on, it’s not eve teasing – its sexual harassment and it cannot be ignored. It is not just the expression of lust and desire, but also of power; and the fact that men can do away without getting reprimanded for their actions makes it even worse. Then it is also said that it’s the woman’s fault, she shouldn’t get out of her house after dark or she shouldn’t dress in this way or that; all of this makes no sense because irrespective of the looks, dressing style, age or caste – all women are the victims, even in daylight. So what are we supposed to do? Go hibernate? Or never go out without a male accompanying us? Is there anything you can do against it? I googled about the provisions in our constitution but they are all flawed and rarely followed. Hardly is there any awareness about laws against eve teasing and even if one dares complain, the the procedural laws are complex and the type of proof that is required make it very difficult to get the culprit punished. Whom does a girl approach then? Does she not have a right to live with dignity? I don’t yet have an answer…
But yeah, I can say that at least voicing our concern and bringing to the notice of the police is must, otherwise the culprits will take it for granted that they can do away with such behavior. If at least some of the women complain, we can ask for proper punishment for the culprit and learning from them other women will follow.
Not many know that there is a women Helpline number for their city on which they can call to receive help as soon as possible with the help of Police control Room vans. The number is 1091 in Ahmedabad and Delhi. Also as a primary safety measure, learning some form of martial art to become physically strong or carrying something to protect oneself, can be an option just to assure that we are not so vulnerable.
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