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23 ways to prevent molestation in public

January 5, 2007

It’s all tumbling out of the closet. This recent molestation incident concerns an Australian woman from Sydney. She admitted on live television (CNN-IBN) yesterday that she and her boy-friend were right there – at the Gateway – and exactly the same kind of molestation that had happened to the unknown girl at the Gateway of India happened to her. There were tears in the couple’s eyes as they narrated the sordid saga of her being pinched, pushed, shoved and felt up. She asked her boy-friend to cover her from the back as that is where the hands were coming from. Finally they escaped…and ofcourse, cancelled the rest of their India trip. They are going back. They also spoke to Midday. Lee said: ‘We used to get strange looks from people for being foreigners, but we never really felt unsafe. After this incident, we fear for our safety. We are terrified.’ Midday also reported this incident where an American woman was molested by a fifteen-year old boy who had asked her to take his photograph at the Prince of Wales museum.

The bitter truth
This can happen to any girl or woman anywhere in India. But everyone, including the government, the travel agencies, the police and hotels gloss over the fact that eve-teasing and molestation is part and parcel of daily life in India. Nobody wants to know what the average woman suffers every single day at the hands of perverts. Rude and continuous staring at body parts, lewd remarks and gestures, brushing against women’s bodies, touching, grabbing and even hard pinching and twisting..these things happen all the time in all the cities in India. What exactly happens simply depends on opportunity the perverts get. It doesn’t matter how the girl is dressed (girls in traditional clothes are also teased and raped), how old she is (babies are felt up and yes, even raped), how pretty she is or where she is (patients in hospitals are felt up and raped). All that the perverts care about is that the victim is vulnerable and that they aren’t caught.

As we can’t depend on the police to stop this menace and we cannot change the mentality of these people, let’s save ourselves. It is not possible to stop the lewd remarks and staring – but molestation can be reduced.

Here are a few tips which will be of great use to the uninitiated, more so to those women new to India. This is specially for those women new to India, like foreign tourists for example.

These tips are not meant to try and tell Indian girls how to dress or how to behave. But after reading of cases of foreign women being caught in crowded suburban trains (when no local girl will travel in a male compartment) or of foreign women taking lifts from strangers without being able to judge the threat, I thought this post was required.

A few guidelines to prevent molestation..and er…they are just guidelines and not hard and fast rules!:

1) Do not go walk around in any crowded public place (meaning – packed with people like sardines are packed together, jostling, touching), whether it is a park, a procession, a celebration, a square or a market even if you are with someone, even if it is a known safe place and even if it is daylight. Be careful even in a discotheque or a party which is jam-packed with people you don’t know – complete strangers. It is possible that you might be touched inappropriately.

2) Generally speaking, shopping malls, streets and cinema halls are safe but it is possible to get caught in a crowd here too. If by chance you are caught in a rush of people (while entering or leaving a theatre for example), be alert.

3) If you go for a movie or any show, it’s best that the man accompanying you sits next to the man in the next seat. Most Indian couples do this naturally and no one thinks of it as unusual.

4) Do not under any circumstances travel in a crowded bus. If you take a local train then only use the ladies compartment. (An NRI I know traveled in a general compartment and had a bad time – it was rush hour.) An overwhelming majority of cab and rickshaw drivers are decent, at least in Mumbai and Pune (I cannot vouch for any other city) but do avoid going around in a cab or rickshaw alone in the middle of the night. I guess this is a precaution you would take in your home town too. Traveling alone after 11 p.m in any strange city is risky, specially in certain countries.

5) If you catch anyone leering at you or if you hear a lewd remark, best ignore it if you are alone. However if you are being touched you can make a fuss if you have the time. There is no guarantee of the public coming to your support though and the decision to react is entirely your own.

6) If you have to hand over money or recieve change from anyone, I mean a guy whom you think could be leching, it is better that you diplomatically suggest that they keep the change on the counter. If you do it casually no one will get offended.

7) Avoid eye-contact with strange men. Generally, women talking to strange men is unusual here unless it is a commercial exchange like in a shop or restaurant.

8. Do not share taxis or rickshaws with strangers. Ever. And definitely avoid getting into a cab or rick if there is another person next to the driver, his friend or relative. There have been many crimes committed in these type of situations.

9) My suggestion is that avoid traveling to India as a tourist if you are a single woman. Single women living in India know the ways here. A single foreigner will not unless she has lots of guidance from a local. If she has the guidance then she can always take the necessary precautions.

10) Avoid small talk and chatting with cabbies, shop-keepers or other strange men. While most men might be decent, how are you going to judge who isn’t? As a foreigner you will not be able to. Don’t accede to any male’s request to take his photograph and never ask any man to take yours. An Indian woman approached in this way will probably snub the man. There is no way of knowing whether the man wants  help or is acting fresh. Most probably he is trying to be fresh because in a such a situation an Indian man will approach another man to take his photo, not a woman.

11) A hotel employee might genuinely want to help you, as part of the ‘good service’ of the hotel. However, be alert. If the man looks at your breasts or crotch, refuse the help. There are always ladies around who can help.

12) It’s a sad reflection on our society but a woman who shows skin (legs above the knees, low cut top) is thought to be a woman who wants or deserves to be ogled at and molested. I am not saying that the clothes are the cause of the eve-teasing, because women in all kinds of clothes are teased because finally it is the locality which counts. A locality with louts and lafangas will mean more eve-teasing for girls and women, and even elderly women will not be spared, nor little girls. Walking around in short clothes does attract attention and that’s a fact however much feminists deny it.  Sure, it’s time our public got used to women dressing the way they want to, and if you can handle the attention you get, go ahead.

These are not hard and fast rules, simply tips. But generally you find that in India, girls in minis go around in cars, and do not use public transport. It is safe wearing a mini dress in a mall or even on the streets, specially if you are accompanied by a male, and you can always ignore the attention. You may be able to handle it. In fact in Mumbai its very common to see young girls in short skirts and in certain areas no one will give you a second glance.

13) Any woman who sits in a restaurant alone or is in fact even walking alone is considered a fair target by road-side romeos. By this I mean that there will be eve-teasing. Again I am not saying don’t do it. I am saying be aware and be alert to people following you.

14) Be alert while standing in lines – airport lines, railway station lines or in fact any line. The guy behind you could be a pervert (don’t be fooled if he is well-dressed). It is easy for a man to sidle up to you in a line so casually and so quickly that you will only know when the feeling up or breathing down your neck process is over.

15) While walking on the road always be aware of those behind you. It’s not just a pick-pocket that you have to watch out for, but a pervert who will try to brush against you. There have also been several cases of cyclists coming from behind and grabbing a breast as they cycle past. This usually happens on deserted roads or at night. It happens often in Delhi.

16) Do not hang around alone in any one place for too long. People will notice and might get interested. I guess this could happen anywhere in the world.

17) Do not for god’s sake travel to an Indian village unless you are in a group or with family. I know that the author of Shantaram (Gregory Roberts) did it but he was a toughie. Law and order in villages is not as good as it is in the cities. Rape is far more common in the country-side. You will realise if you read this article or this.

18) It goes without saying that do not ever go out to a deserted place. This applies to any place in the world I guess.

19) If you have to return home at night make sure you have trusted company and a vehicle with a trusted driver. In many cases of rape and molestation, drivers have been involved. If you do get a decent driver, best not to be chatty.

20) Occasions like New Year’s when people get drunk and are feeling festive are dangerous nights. Even people in a vehicle can be stopped. Anything can happen. People I know make it a habit to stay the night at the party and leave the next morning.

21) Wearing a swimsuit can attract stares unless you are in a good hotel…or in places like Goa! Ofcourse if you don’t care about the stares, it’s fine.

22) Do not imagine that the public (no, not even women) or the police will support you. Lewd remarks, leering and touching strange women are not considered serious issues. Women who talk about it are thought to be making too much fuss. Unless ofcourse you are in a decent place and/or in a group…but then this might not happen in the first place. These kind of incidents usually happen when a woman is alone – at a railway station or in a bus. So do not assume that the public will support you.

23) Carry a pepper spray at all times. You may ofcourse never need it.

Safety issues in different cities based on my personal experiences:

DELHI - a city in which I lived for almost 6 years.
This city is unsafe for women. Being alone in any public place is a risk even in the day . Going out after dark is positively dangerous. Ogling, lewd remarks, touching is a daily ocurrence. Rape statistics are high. Women drivers are often heckled. Cab and rickshaw drivers are not to be trusted.

CALCUTTA – a city in which I lived in for 4 years.
Though the city is generally safe, there are not too many women on the roads. One of the reasons is that the percentage of working women in this city is not too high. However, even in vegetable markets I was usually surrounded by men buying vegetables. It felt odd. Yes, there is plenty of staring but as long as you avoid going out after dark chances of being molested are very low. I have traveled in Calcutta by a public bus (not crowded) and have never faced a problem. Once on the metro I had a bad experience – in a crowd. While the local Bengali people are respectful towards women, there are a lot of bad elements from other states who live there. This city is not safe after dark.

BANGALORE – We lived here for a good four years.
It is generally safe to move around alone in this city. You will find plenty of women on the roads, in rickshaws, behind the wheel in cars, in pubs…infact everywhere! This itself makes one feel safe. However there is ogling and leering and in some places you might get a rough crowd. Take all precautions and avoid traveling alone at night. Just this summer (May 2006) my daughter’s friend was walking to a bus-stop in Jayanagar alone (by chance there was no one else in sight on the road) at 10 p.m. and two men on a scooter came up to her, jumped off the scooter and molested her. They were rough and she was bruised. She started screaming loudly and they ran away. This girl was badly shaken but she did not report the incident to the police.

MUMBAI – I have lived here for three years now but have been visiting this city ever since I was a child.
Generally safe, even in the evenings. Here too there are plenty of women on the road, in public places, in vegetable markets, in offices…everywhere. However there are cheap men here too and one needs to be alert. The only bad experience I have had in this city has been at the railway station.

PUNE - my birthplace and a city where I have lived for over a decade.
Like Mumbai and Bangalore there are plenty of women in public places in this city. I have had several bad experiences in crowded buses – once when I was in the seventh grade and on the way to school in a 35 number bus, a Sadhu (holy man) in orange robes who was climbing into the bus behind me took out his thing and tried to touch me with it. It was one of the sickest experiences I have had. And I have had a bad experience in a Ganpati (Holy) procession on Pune’s Laxmi’s road. I had gone with a group of two other girls (it was six in the evening) and all of us were surrounded by a gang of boys and touched. We were all just 14 years old. Since then I have never gone to see a Ganapati and do not allow my daughters to see them either. In fact religious processions are taboo as it usually means huge crowds.

AHMEDABAD – I have not lived here but my daughter who is a teenager, has.
This city is full of road-side romeos who leer at women. It is supposed to be a safe city in many ways but there is plenty of eve-teasing.

MEERUT – I lived here for one month
Horrible place. Even walking in a group of girls invites lewd marks (in the day-time too). Absolutely unsafe for women.

But I must add something here. I lived in a city called Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania for two years. This is an African country and when I went there I was all prepared for an onslaught of lecherous men. But there were none! Our driver there never looked at my breasts (here drivers all do and if breasts are not visible they try and get a glimpse one way or the other!) and in the shops the men were polite and respectful. I used to buy vegetables from the main market (crowded), but no man ever tried to caress my hand as he handed over packages or change. I have never been stared and ogled at there either. It was such a huge relief that I wanted to stay in Tanzania forever! I felt free.
Once, I went to a seedy place in Dar to buy movie tickets and I saw a group of heavily built African youths with tattoos lounging around just outside the ticket window. It was clear that they were poor and that they were rough types. There was no one around and my car was parked at a distance. I hesitated, but only for a few seconds. The men had not even looked up as I approached. So I went right to the window and bought the tickets. They did not even look at me inspite of me being dressed in tight jeans and top and being a foreigner! I could not get over this incident and thought about it for days afterward. I came to the conclusion that in India many men are lecherous without respect for women. They could be starved for sex and therefore look at every women from the sex angle. They simply cannot see women as human beings.
By the way – sex in Tanzania is no big deal. The society is very open that way. Why should I judge them? I think they are far more moral than us. Forcing unwanted attention on a female is immoral. Consensual sex is not.

Note 1: In this article I am only suggesting ways to avoid harassment on the streets and in other public places. If I am not advocating confronting a guy (I have got feedback saying that confrontation is the way to deal with it!) because if one confronts a guy on the street it would be like confronting one every few days/weeks. In these circumstances it will become impossible to live. I am not talking about dealing with rapists or even sexual assault. Nor am I referring to office harassment as harassment in the workplace which can be continuous and has many ramifications. That has to be dealt with differently. Also, one comment by someone directed me to another woman’s (a westerner) site which had tips on how to deal with the problems of sexual harassment. She suggested talking with the guy and looking him in the eye and slowly convincing him that she is worthy of respect. This was so ridiculous that I wanted to laugh! Certainly it is a mistake to do this on the street or in a public place. I will never do it. Looking a stranger in the bus in the eye and trying to talk it out with him!! How stupid. I would never advise anyone to do it.

Note 2: A lot of foreigners who come to this post find the advise a little weird. Well, what I am saying is not new to those who live in India. I would advise those who are not familiar with India to simply google search words like eve-teasing, rape, molestation, sexual harassment along with words like India, urban, rural and they will find that the picture is indeed a grim one. I am giving one link here: It tells you that “preventing situations from developing in the first place is important…Do not promote undue familiarity, especially if you are a woman. Indian women keep a good distance from men who are strangers. Touching, even hand shaking, is inappropriate.” This site is for tourists but believe me it’s pretty mild. They don’t want to frighten away the tourists. The documents you get in India for Indians are far more revealing and hard-hitting.

My advise may not be politically correct and it may not be perfect but then these are just guidelines, that’s all. Every individual is different and every individual situation is different.

Update: A shocking incident of molestation. Some girls, some from Jai Hind College were molested near Wankhede Stadium on Marine Drive in Mumbai. This happened on 26th of September 2007 when our cricketers were riding in an open bus to celebrate their win in the T20 World Cup. This was an open bus and there were huge crowds along the way. This is the link to the incident. This incident was largely hushed up as the girls (who came from good families) refused to report the incident to the police.
The girls were molested very badly and apparently a lot more girls were molested and seen crying on the side of the road. Groups of men surrounded the girls and did whatever they could. This is a part and parcel of our society now and everyone should beware. The police do nothing and give stupid statements like these things did not happen at one time. They always happened in India and always will unless these offenders are put behind bars for at least 10 years. Is that harsh punishment for these molesters? I don’t think so. No girl is safe in crowds in any city in India.

Related Reading: Reasons and Solutions for Molestation.
Why is eve-teasing accepted in India?
Molestation of a girl at the Gateway of India
The psychology of rapists
Men who see women as sex objects improve with counseling
Teenagers in India have to lie about their relationships with the opposite sex
Societal values make many Indian teens see dating as a prelude to marraige

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102 Comments leave one →
  1. nudgemunn permalink
    January 5, 2007 2:29 pm

    You should come to Malaysia and see how free we are here. No place is 100% safe, but women travelling alone in this country, even in the evenings is normal. A man molesting a woman is frowned upon by our society and a woman’s scream warrants help from everyone, not ridicule. Cheerio.

  2. mssuicidebomber permalink
    January 5, 2007 9:16 pm

    This is one of the many things that disgust me about men. No respect, we’re property still in the 21century.I’m so tired of the struggle to be seen as a human being with value other than for what is between my legs. And even that is seen as a cheap commodity.

  3. Harit permalink
    January 5, 2007 10:11 pm

    It shames me to endorse everything you’ve said. I think women need to be more equipped to fight abusers. Carrying a loud personal alarm that attracts attention is a method used in several western countries. Ads need to go out on television educating women on how to deal with these situatons. This may also stave off a few potential molesters.

  4. Anonymous Coward permalink
    January 6, 2007 11:19 am

    While you are probably better experienced to give out tips than me(A guy).

    Recommending people to avoid going to places/doing certain things etc. This only makes the problem worse for those that end up doing it.(Even if for no other reason than they have no choice in the matter)

    There is always strength in numbers, crime is higher at night than during the day because there are fewer people around. It’s not that the moon causes people to turn criminal. Advising people to stay off the streets at night because of the chance of being robbed, only makes it worse for those that don’t have the option of not being out at night.(late night work etc.)

    I read that the cops are planning to impose restrictions on new year celebrations… if any thing the womens organisations should encourage more women to gather at the gateway of india next year if there were as many women out there as men, they’d definitely think twice.

  5. January 7, 2007 4:03 pm

    It’s great that you are thinking of helping the women in safety but I think your some of guidelines are not practical. ‘Avoid crowded places and avoid being alone’. Where can the women go?

    Men should be educated on equal rights. It only works when the law punishes the criminals instead of letting them go. Who works under the law?

    Women shouldn’t keep quiet about sexual abuse and depend on others only to help. Protect yourself by learning and practicing martial arts. Men surrounding them too. Abuse is abuse.

    Everyone should have the right to live and party peacefully.

  6. January 7, 2007 9:37 pm

    MJ, you don’t live in India but in Malaysia.
    Also, what I have suggested are not hard and fast rules, just general guidelines.
    If it is a safe place ofcourse one can move around alone and if the crowd is decent, one can ofcourse go in that crowd. It is all a matter of judgement. But if you ask me I will never go in a place which is crowded. Crowded meaning a place which is packed with people. And I would never advise any woman to go to a place like that either – at least in India. But perhaps I am past the age where I enjoy such outings. Those who have to go need to be alert.

  7. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    January 8, 2007 9:06 am

    There is no doubt that India is bad and I agree with all that is said. Indians have no respect for law. We have our legislators breaking laws that they themselves enact. Secondly, we have no fear of the law. These eve-teasers know that they would go scot-free even if caught. Courts take generations to decide on simple cases. Thirdly, corruption is rampant. A simple 10/- rupee bill is adequate. Fourthly, all political parties have ensured that the majority of Indians remain uneducated and the legal system does not reform.
    We need to start a movement to get rid of this cancer.

  8. January 9, 2007 12:00 pm

    The root cause is lack of respect for women. Also it is said that eve-teasing and rape is often an act of violence, not sex. I have explained this in this post:
    Why men rape
    And this one:
    Counseling can help eve-teasers
    The molesters and perverts are worse than animals because animals do not commit these acts.
    Molesters not only lack a sense of right and wrong, they also see their victims as objects, not humans.
    In any case this particular post is not about sexual violence, it’s about eve-teasing and molestation, a related issue.

  9. January 9, 2007 11:43 am

    These are useful guidelines, particularly for tourists.

    The Indian judicial system should come down heavily on these ‘psychos’. Fear of severe punishment should be so be etched in their minds, so that they would not ..ever, think of doing it.
    In fact they should be flogged/lashed in public.

    However, this does not eliminate the root cause… what makes them do it??

  10. January 9, 2007 3:14 pm

    I’m not sure if ur advice to not shout out or confront is right. In Mumbai atleast, it is a good thing to do. Except at Gateway of India, this recent new years eve.

  11. January 9, 2007 4:42 pm

    I would never confront a man if he brushes against me or if he makes a lewd remark and that is what the main part of my article is about. For a traveler it’s a common occurance and as we all know the culprit will never be booked. It’s impossible to prove because he can always say he did it accidentally or that he was speaking to someone else. So if a woman make a scene it is a waste of breath and her precious time. Also she will be subjecting herself to ridicule.
    My advise is to help women, not cause them more grief.
    In any case, as I wouldn’t do it I cannot advise other women to do it can I? That would be hypocritical.
    If the offence is more serious like the kind of molestation that happened at New Years Eve, believe me one has to shout and try to get out.

  12. krishna permalink
    January 10, 2007 6:42 am

    That molestationor should be hangout like Sadam Husen.Ladies should get chance to walk as their wish.What a stupid idea to do this.

    krishna Nepal.

  13. Aarnika Tiwari permalink
    January 10, 2007 11:40 am

    Respect your advice, and the passion of writing it. Some tips may sound weird, but it may still be helpful to avoid the seedy, weirdly, sickards of Meerut, New Delhi and all over the world.
    However, out of fear, if women don’t go out for large gatherings, such as New Year Eve or whatever, then there will be definitely be outnumbered, and the culture will be purely men-men make prey of any women. Which is not right.
    The root cause may not be so sex-starved men in India. There are just too many people, without work, obvious interest is peek nose into other’s business, and talk about some phantomlike great culture of keeping 50% population almost away from sunlight and even after sunset, just for being a women. There are crimes happening against women all over the world. But in India, that attitude of “I have no work now, got lot of time, why not go for eve-teasing?” is generally acceptable, even promoted in Hindi films, especially since 1980s, that I know of. And all stars from Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun, Jacky Shroff, and Akshay Kumar to Govinda [I may have missed a number of them] have strongly shown how to be hypocrite while themselves teasing a film-leading girl is okay, and to show heroism when their sister or girlfriend gets teased the same way. And we call Hindi/ Tamil/ Telegu/ Punjabi/ Bhojpuri films as canvas of our culture. Yuck!
    Look at what happened when Rakhi Sawant [She is no goddess of good behavior in anyway, though that does not entitle anybody to force on her.] tried to confront the man who tried to kiss her in public against her wishes. That idiot never got any punishment. Furthermore he is releasing album, with promos on TV for “Ae bhai tune puppi kyun li…?” to tease the girl again in the lewd manner. And nobody has yet called for the ban on this music video. This is India. Firstly, tease a girl, and then make money by making music video on the experience. Man, it pays to be part of this culture man.

  14. January 10, 2007 2:07 pm

    Aarnika, you have written with passion too and I appreciate your comments. I agree with you about the movies. ‘Heroes’ are shown teasing women. In fact, in Indian movies women are shown as weak and as victims. Not all movies are like this (I simply abhor the Biwi No. 1 type of movies!) and I make sure I watch the better ones. But then as you said movies perpetuate the myth that women are second class citizens.
    Yes, I agree with you that it is sad that women have to take so many precautions. Some major awareness campaigns about how a woman feels when she is teased needs to be undertaken.
    Also, the attitude that a girl who is dressed in skimpy clothes deserves or is asking to be molested needs to be changed.
    Why, even a call-girl doesn’t deserve to be molested. Molestation is an act of aggression.

  15. Gene permalink
    January 13, 2007 2:17 am

    “Do not go walk around in any crowded public place (meaning – packed with people), whether it is a park, a procession, a celebration, a square or a market even if you are with someone, even if it is a known safe place and even if it is daylight.”

    But then how do tourists visit the attractions of India?

    It sounds like White people shouldn’t even consider setting foot in India.

  16. January 13, 2007 5:34 am

    Gene, you misunderstand. I think the phrase ‘packed with people’ is what threw you off. It actually means where people are literally packed like sardines. This is not uncommon in India and you will find it in trains and during religious celebrations and some processions. This will not usually happen in any tourist place. These warnings are for tourists not to try and use public transport like crowded buses and trains and to avoid huge crowds.
    Look, I am very mobile. I roam around on my own in most cities but I never go into crowds. The crowds I am warning against are not to be found in shopping malls or main thoroughfares.

  17. January 13, 2007 1:12 pm

    A very practical post indeed…

  18. January 13, 2007 7:20 pm

    Many feminists have pointed out that the threat of sexual assault, and advice to women on how to avoid it, have actually been used to control women’s movements and to restrict their access to public spaces. That’s why I’m ambivalent about your post. I’m not going to advocate that any individual woman should go through the trauma of police channels, or should put herself in danger by challenging her attackers, for the sake of the rest of us. But I think that reducing the problem to a safety issue for individual women is very disempowering. If a great many women are facing indecent assault at the hands of men, treating the problem like it’s up to women individually to “manage” themselves so easily leads to victim-blaming, and doesn’t address the problem at all.

    Instead, I’d rather see it challenged on a collective level, with things like the Blank Noise Project, that offer safety in numbers and try to make public spaces safer for all women.

  19. January 13, 2007 7:21 pm

    I should mention, I found this post through DesiPundit, and I’m not a regular reader.

  20. January 14, 2007 7:35 am

    Firefly, this post is for individual women. I do not claim to be a social reformer. Mine is a single voice.
    And I guess I am not a feminist.
    Also this post is not how to avoid sexual ‘assault’ in the true sense. It’s about eve-teasing and ‘brushing’ and ‘touching’. In any case I am not an expert on sexual assault.
    But as an individual woman I strongly stand by what I have said – as advise to individual women. I really wonder how you expect a foreigner traveling to India become a part of a ‘collective’ campaign?

  21. January 14, 2007 4:57 pm

    being a guy, i really don’t know what to say. I surely cannot empathize with the plight that women go thru, but I can say that I support whatever it takes to stop this menace.

    If you ask me, one of the main reasons such stuff happens is coz the average Indian male just can’t accept the fact that women are their equals (in every way).

    As someone noticed, Indian movies stand guilty of encouraging such behavior.

  22. January 14, 2007 8:35 pm

    Firefly –
    I am not against the Blank Noise project at all. In admire the women who are part of it. I wonder why you thought I would never take part in a campaign like that? If it took place in a city where I live and someone asked me I might – though I do think I am too old for it!
    By the way I am great fighter in every single thing. Anyone who reads my blog carefully will realise that. I am actually a firebrand and always have been… in fact I have got into trouble because of it.
    My tips are practical tips my friend…in my opinion. However – good men feel indignant when they read it…we need more men like you Firefly.
    And as for public places where did I say do not go to public places?
    I am not a homebird myself! I am constantly out of the house and I have traveled by bus and by train and rick and taxis even in Delhi! From the age of 7 I have traveled alone in a public bus. Even today nobody escorts me anywhere. I drive and I have been stuck on a highway and managed beautifully thank you.
    I also carry pepper spray and have used it! I travel around the country by myself too. I am writing this because another commentator was under the impression that I like to sit and home and crawl into a shell. That made me and my husband really laugh out loud.
    And er…for those of you who came here from Desi Pundit – if you make a scene if someone make a lewd remark or brushes past you …YES people will think you are making too much fuss. I have done it more than once. That’s life for a woman in India. In this post I have written the absolute truth – no more. And I am proud that I had the courage to say somethign that is not politically correct.
    But then I am a fighter!
    Cheers to all of you.

  23. January 15, 2007 5:28 am

    Some people were pretty confused between eve-teasing and sexual assault. Either they think eve-teasing is not important or they thought my post was about sexual assault – which it is not.
    Also, if they feel that eve-teasing can be stopped if more women are out…why don’t they make a suggestion to the Maharashtra government asking them to abolish ladies compartment in Mumbai locals? Obviously ladies compartmemts (according to the logic of these men) are regressive. Let us see if women travel in the general compartment. I for one will not and I doubt if any woman will.
    So what these men are suggesting (going out to New Years Eve’s celebrations at places like the gateway or going into crowded places are positively risky acts where the eve-teasing can turn into sexual assault.
    It is a pity that a responsible place (I thought) like Desi Pundit actually doubted what I said about women not getting public support if they are eve-teased. I welcome healthy argument but if any vulnerable woman reads that and believes it, I will feel very very sad because it will be harmful to her. My post is a serious one and flippancy about it I do not welcome.
    Also if there was public support – eve-teasing in India would not exist. These creeps do it because no one stops them. I am ofcourse not talking of isolated experiences, but generally so.

  24. January 15, 2007 5:02 pm

    For the record, I’m a woman.

    Also, I don’t use the term “eve-teasing” because it’s a euphemism that trivialises a very serious phenomenon — sexual assault. You mention that “eve-teasing” can take the form of molestation, groping, and suggestive gazing at women’s bodies. Well, any violation of the bodily integrity of a human being is an assault. If that assault occurs for the sexual pleasure of the assailant, it’s a sexual assault. End of story. No need for euphemisms like “eve-teasing” that cast the perpetrators as less harmful than they actually are.

  25. January 15, 2007 5:49 pm

    I cannot disagree with you there…about eve-teasing being a serious problem. In fact it makes me angry when people do not see it as such.
    While awareness campaigns are important, I think education is the long-term solution and it has to start at an early age. Instead – in India boys are taught at an early age that they are superior to women and in some cases they are taught to view women as sex objects. Until this is tackled where it starts and unless women themselves realise that eve-teasing is also a kind of assault the public will not support a woman who complains of this.

  26. Anil permalink
    January 15, 2007 7:58 pm

    All of you are correct as far as description and analysis of the issue is concerned. Molestation may be related to openness of the society to sex is concerned. India has been open may be in the 12th century but went back to its shell in the earlier part of 19th century. During its reign, britisher demolished all institutions including education, health, social or cultural.
    So whether solution should be to prepare to save yourelf or work for emancipation of the society as a long term solution.
    We have to look at practicality aspects of the 23 + solutions provided. 23 + because other bloggers have added a few like hang them…
    In one of the conferences Gurcharandass was defining India and he gave two words. Law and Order. Both are necessary existence and growth of a society. He defined Cina has order but no law while India has all the laws and no order.
    What I am sugesting is to bring the level of order to a respectable level, concern for anything illegal happening around you, belief in threat for such action through social and police actions, concersion of threat to action in sample cases, and speedy and exemplary action at that. In my view this will go a logn way then commercialising pepper spray, why not button knife or stungun.

  27. Rachel permalink
    January 16, 2007 12:10 am

    I truly appreciate the effort you’ve put into this post. It is plain to see that you are not asking women to stay at home and be scared, but until the streets are safe all these guidelines are the means to avoid unpleasant experiences, and a means of survival, because sexual harassment — verbal or physical–damage and wear down our spirits and negetively affect all aspects of our lives. I am happy to say that I have met many Indian women who have handled such incidences with dignity and strength, often giving the molestor a taste of his own medicine, and they have done it alone with no one to hold their hands, and succeeded in shaming and punishing them. A friend of mine used to be told by other women in Delhi buses to take a taxi if she thought she was too good for the bus. This comment is common and shameful. The crowds rarely help. It is important for women to stand up for each other in such situations. Justice may have been delivered quickly for the foreigners but it shouldn’t happen in the first place. As for the horror stories one hears, no single foreigner expects to go on holiday and get raped instead. It has happened and it is sad, and if this is the reputation we’re getting for it then we deserve it. I don’t believe the government will actually do something about it until we suffer economically for it. And Bollywood contributes greatly to education of of these pigs. Even their attempts at awareness of such issues are shallow excuses to excite the crowd.

  28. Supporter of girlpower permalink
    January 16, 2007 1:13 am

    If we have to wait till actions have been taken against the dirty perverts, I guess it will take a looooooong time.
    I’d say, if men act like that, ladies have the right the defend herself. Ladies, just take your pepperspray, button knife or stungun with you in your handbag. Defend yourself.
    Even though I am a woman, I hope for those men that they never ever meet me, cause I would really beat them up if they dare to touch me with one finger.
    It won’t be their best day.
    Girlpower

  29. January 16, 2007 5:33 am

    Rachel, I admire women who fight back. However I have given some tips that will prevent eve-teasing as much as possible.
    True, I do not advise that women should fight back when they are eve-teased…but yes, they have to fight back if they are molested…like it happens in Delhi buses.

  30. rachel permalink
    January 16, 2007 8:07 am

    True, for women unused to such scum it is best not to invite ridicule as well, and exit the scene as soon as possible. I have seen Indian women handle such scum with the contempt they deserve, often humiliating them in return. I often think it has little to do with sex and everything to do with the pleasure a cheap person gets from seeing another person’s humiliation. Once, on a bus in Delhi, two girls asked a molestor whether his wife was sick of him and threw him out of the house, and told him to go get some on the bus. Their jokes continued until the man was so humiliated he got of at the next stop!

  31. January 16, 2007 8:37 am

    Nita, why do you think following these tips will prevent ‘eve-teasing’? Does your personal experience, or the experience of women you know, show that you are less likely to be ‘eve-teased’ if you do any or all of the above?

  32. January 16, 2007 9:35 am

    There is no guarantee at all. One can experience eve-teasing in any situation and I have not listed all of them.
    In fact one can be eve-teased even if one is completely covered, from head to toe. I have had balloons full of colour thrown at me when I was clad in a saree. I have had people make lewd remarks when I was wearing a saree. If I have given the impression anywhere in my post that the dress is what causes it, I opologise. This is not my intention and it is NOT what I believe.
    All I have done is given a list of certain things that can help reduce the incidents…and it is from my own experience and those I know, yes.
    But there is no guarantee at all. If one is a certain place where there are eve-teasers, not much can prevent the eve-teasers from doing their bit. And on the other hand there are places where one is absolutely safe, one can wear anything, put one’s arms around a man and know that you will not be misunderstood.
    As I have mentioned somewhere in my post – it is a matter of judgement. That is up to an individual woman and in India we usually are pretty good at this due to our constant exposure to such situations. An outsider may not be able to make that judgement that accurately.

  33. Tipsy Toes permalink
    January 16, 2007 9:54 am

    Could you also clarify something more?

    Your experience and that of women you know is the basis for this list of ‘certain things that can help reduce the incidents’, you say.

    I understand the caveat that these are not foolproof – even if you follow your list assiduously, you might still be molested.

    Your list itself is a list of things women should avoid doing. So you believe that certain modifications to women’s behaviour can make them less prone to ‘eve-teasing’?

  34. January 16, 2007 10:35 am

    I really cannot say that. That would be wrong.
    But if the police warn women not to go the Gateway of India to celebrate New Years because it is risky, and a woman listens – do you term it as a ‘modification of her behavior’? Has she stopped going for New Years parties? Is she going to stop going out? Ofcourse not. So I do not think she is ‘modifying’ her ‘behavior.’ She is taking a precautionary measure. If she still goes I think it is most unwise.
    Similarly if she is advised not to ride on a CROWDED bus because there are chances that someone will try to touch her …and she listens – do you term it as a ‘modification of her behavior?’ Has she stopped traveling in buses? Has she stopped going out?
    No. She has to find some way. There may be some women who have no choice but to travel in crowded buses, but after a while they get fed up. I know some who have switched to two-wheelers, to company buses. I know some who travel with a colleague…it’s an individual thing. Women find a way.
    But using pepper sprays and whatever as a routine thing is a bit inconvinient.

  35. January 16, 2007 6:16 pm

    Well, if you were to extrapolate what you have said..its almost akin to saying “wear burkha” because the every glimse of a little finger will make a man think that you are asking for it!!

    ya but some points are worth noting…

  36. January 16, 2007 6:37 pm

    Luckily – I have not extrapolated. The burkha thing sounds extreme to me.

  37. Starbuck permalink
    January 22, 2007 12:56 am

    How about a list targeting men and telling them what they should not do. Things like – “If you’re in a crowded place with a woman, don’t touch her.” “If you’re next to a woman in a bus, don’t grope her.” “If you walk past a woman, do not stare at her breasts.” “If a woman is walking by, do not make sexual comments.”

  38. ravikiran permalink
    January 22, 2007 2:07 am

    The said incident about a few rowdies groping a foriegner and about what happened to an indian couple is not such a commen thing in INDIA. It happened in a group of rowdy men who were drunk and in the middle of night.
    Such things do happen in India but India is a huge country with a huge population and when we extrapolate ours with the crime rate of your countries (which appear low) you would find that that crime rates are far far lesser than those of western countries.
    There are poor localities in Europe,America and England.If a foriegner goes to these localities with a gold chain and a fat purse(especially in some areas in europe and USA) the chances are that he would be killed for the money.
    In India you would be safe in any poor localities because AT THE most they may surround you and beg for money but would not snatch or kill you.
    This is just a prejudiced versions of a hyped media watching people. Such things happen everywhere not just in India.
    I do agree that eve teasing happens in India but most of it is very innocent in nature. The reason i think is beacuse that is the only way a male can get the attention of a female in India.They are not allowed to meet or have fun. So eve teasing follows.
    A LOT of successful love stories in India start with eve teasing.
    Normally if you say shut up strongly they leave you alone.
    Mostly its harmless.

  39. January 22, 2007 7:02 am

    Starbuck: Do you really think that any man who does that will listen to me? I am not a social worker, as I have said somewhere above. I am an ordinary Indian woman, not an expert on these issues. If a girl feels she can go into a crowded bus and handle any problem that could arise, she should go ahead. There is no compunction to follow this guideline as everyone knows.
    However, remember that it is not easy. If an ordinary woman like me could control the perverts, there would be no need for psychiatrists and social workers would there?

  40. Supporter of girlpower permalink
    January 23, 2007 1:55 am

    I agree with Nita, and I have the impression that Ravikiran must work for a Tourism office. Ravikiran, You’re not able to see reality in Mumbai, or those other cities mentioned in the article. If you would open your eyes, face the huge problems, deal with it and look and think seriously about solutions, you could all make it a lot safer for every woman and it would be in the benefit for everyone. How about that?
    Don’t close your eyes for reality. Look around; a lady, even accompanied WITH her boyfriend, being touched and bugged by 60 men does not happen everywhere. It’s not a normal happening. And yes, in other big cities in the world they might steal, and maybe kill. But bugging an innocent girl with 60 men, no that does not happen everywhere at any time in every country.
    If, as a lady, you are not able to defend, I am sure these guys rape you and kill you. I am quite sure of that.
    How can you all call this ‘innocent in nature’. Having no respect for a lady, is that also called ‘innocent in nature’?
    Once again: I can’t say for sure, but I am guessing you are a guy.
    I think you’re also naive to think that with say ‘shut up’ it will all stop, the eve-teasing, or whatever you call that stuped bugging of ladies.
    It’s not like in those Bollywoodmovies, that they just tease, and bam: they fall in love.
    And they all live long and happily.

    Nita, you’re right girl, keep on writing those stuff and keep the world posted about the realities that are happening in the world.
    Don’t worry, we get to know about it and we feel with you.

    Greetz

    Girlpower rules

  41. January 23, 2007 5:39 pm

    ravikiran,
    “I do agree that eve teasing happens in India but most of it is very innocent in nature. The reason i think is beacuse that is the only way a male can get the attention of a female in India.They are not allowed to meet or have fun. So eve teasing follows.
    A LOT of successful love stories in India start with eve teasing.
    Normally if you say shut up strongly they leave you alone.
    Mostly its harmless.”

    Innocent in nature? As long as the females feel it’s threatening or harrassed, it’s NOT innocent, no matter what the males may claim.
    If eve-teasing is the only way Indian men can get females attention then Indian society has a HUGE problem in education, human rights, relationships and sexuality.

    Starbuck, I agree with you.

  42. KARISHMA KHAN permalink
    March 6, 2007 6:43 pm

    HOW CAN EVE-TEASING BE STOPPED?

  43. March 6, 2007 8:40 pm

    You are right Karishma. Eve teasing cannot be stopped until the regressive and sick attitudes of the eve teasers are changed. As ordinary women we cannot do that and so we can do the next best thing. Take a few precautions.

  44. March 7, 2007 1:39 pm

    Ravikiran,

    I read your views and also comments from others on your views. I dont want to do more bashing but this “innocent” teasing would not seem innocent any more when you are walking with you wife or sister….it really feels bad when you are at the receiving end.

    I must admit i never took all this seriously until i had a good looking girlfriend and now a beautiful wife…sometimes my wife curses her beauty and that instance i feel bad ..n i remember the past when i used to gaze at girls (believe me i never teased them, just a question of selfrespect) now i know hw much pain it can cause…..

    so please think when you come at that level and forget about so called innocent teasing….

  45. Rani Thevar permalink
    March 14, 2007 5:35 pm

    Hi Nita
    My sisters and I are planning a trip to india in the near future.
    After reading your advice and the contributions from your readers Im having serious doubts about the visit. God! how can India be so awful to women when all you hear is mother india this and mother india that? and you have all these indian goddesses and yet women are treated like this? dont Indian women deserves some respect that even Indian cows get?
    Im sad and disappointed. Im a Singaporean Tamil and though our men are not paragons of virtue, women are safe to walk the streets alone almost everywhere.

  46. March 14, 2007 6:20 pm

    Hi Rani, please don’t worry so much. We all live here and are quite safe as long as we take basic precautions. In fact I assure you that crimes of violence in India are far less than they are in many developed countries. But would you ever think twice about going to New York if you had to? Ofcourse not, you would take certain precautions, thats all.
    True, its very hurting that there are some sick elements here but believe me that as long as you avoid very crowded places or very lonely places you are absolutely safe.
    Crime is far less here than many developed countries, remember that.
    Yes, there is ogling and touching, but only by the muck of the city. Just be careful and you will enjoy your trip.

  47. bedbug permalink
    April 12, 2007 5:38 pm

    most of the men in india are really sex starved and even cassually holding a girl is not allowed. The contact with a female body is not available and this makes them do so stealthily. Vulgar behavior.

  48. sujit kumar permalink
    April 21, 2007 3:59 pm

    hi

    bulls eye

    have lived in delhi, mumbai, chennai and travelled to atleast 7 states for extended periods of time

    must state that your description, of the average indian male’s predatory instincts, is accurate.

    its kind of apalling to have “such august individuals” in our company.
    —————————————————————————————————–
    my observation has been that women are given little or no respect in their homes.

    a friend had mentioned the (wife) washing ironing ….etc routine once and everywhere i turn, its omnipresent.

    most boys have never learnt how to treat the opposite gender.

    i feel, the foundation of what we are today is shaped significantly by what we observe at home, in school (if we are privelleged enough), social gatherings and our own experiences

    men & women have definitely stopped raising their voices when things go wrong.

    unless women themselves or their immediate family or a friend has a close shave or a nightmare, such issues become just another statistic for our media

    —————————————————————————————————
    in conclusion, i would definitely urge women i know & meet in future to read your views.

    regards,

    sujit

  49. Sandhya permalink
    July 8, 2007 4:39 am

    Dear Nita,

    The middle class protective mother in you is all over this post.

    I agree with starbuck’s suggestion of a list of ‘don’t do’s’ for men….even if merely as a symbolic gesture, it is important.

    I appreciate the way you have shared the truth about India and what you have been through. I have NEVER known another woman to write about what happened to her…and in the numerous instances when i did…to Kalpana sharma for the Hindu, in Police Stations and to the State Womans Commission…nothing happened, but i still think the fight is important.

  50. July 25, 2007 10:48 pm

    What really pisses me off is when I see guys my age turn into mute bystanders when they see a young girl being hounded by guys in broad daylight. I don’t claim to be a savior of the masses but back in college, the girls in my class would tell us about guys at the bus stop harassing them. We did what we could to take care of them.

    I know it’s a little too much to expect men to help out strangers (after all, we are a nation where a mentally-challenged minor girl was raped on a moving local train in Bombay as people watched in silence) but younger guys definitely need to stop worrying about getting a few bruises and enforce a little law & order, not just for their own sisters but also their co-workers and class-mates.

    Most Indian men don’t seem to notice the line between flirting/hitting on someone and stalking/harassing someone clearly uninterested and that is extremely sad.

  51. couragetotremble permalink
    September 28, 2007 7:41 am

    Dear Nita,
    Your writeup is excellent. During my growing years, I lived 6 years in Calcutta and the rest in Bangalore. Since then, I have lived in Chennai, Delhi, and Madurai. I have seen and experienced everything from mild eve teasing to extreme frotteurism on the streets and in buses, in crowded places and lonely ones. My worst experiences were in Bangalore.

    Today, I live in New Zealand and my daughters move about without fear. Until I came here, I did not understand what my brother-in-law, who lives in Kuwait, meant when he said that he had traveled all over the world and found only Indians with this problem. In fact, when I mentioned this issue to my Kiwi colleagues, one of them of Indian origin, they could not even understand what I was saying.

    This problem that we find in our Indian cities and towns is a serious matter and a peculiar one. Only those who have lived outside the country can understand quite how serious it is. Sadly not many women who have been in the thick of it, middle-class enough to have traveled much in crowded buses and trains, get to live in another country and have the ability to write as I am doing now. Even fewer will have the passion and means to actually do anything about it.
    Your article was sensible and true. Every “weird” bit of it.

    Foreigners would do well to make careful note of it. India is a wonderful country that has plenty to offer. But in this matter, it is sadly very different from most other countries in the world.
    -n-

  52. September 28, 2007 8:42 am

    couragetotremble, yes that is why I have written this, to warn outsiders. I don’t want this to happen to any woman.
    btw, just yesterday, girls were molested on Marine Drive Mumbai in the crowds when our cricket team was returning from the airport.
    This is the link:
    And molested very badly. Groups of men surrounded the women and did whatever they could. This is a part and parcel of our society now and everyone should beware. The police do nothing and give stupid statements like these things did not happen at one time. They always happened in India and always will unless these offenders are put behind bars for at least 10 years. Is that harsh punishment for these molesters? I don’t think so.

    • couragetotremble permalink
      January 14, 2013 8:22 am

      Hey, your post is still the best on the subject, I think.

  53. Smruti permalink
    October 27, 2007 11:21 pm

    The reasons you have come to conclusion are valid, but also movies and TV are the CULPRIT # 1! the heroines themselves live in guarded houses and travel by private cars but what they portray on screen, we women on the street have to suffer every day. the entertainment people need to be corrected first.

  54. Smruti permalink
    October 27, 2007 11:22 pm

    My eyes are full of tears nita. I’m so happy that with the Internet we Indian women can finally speak out LOUD and CLEAR in anonymity. Someone like you who is like an idol to all of us has the courage to say what being an Indian woman is like every day. And it shows the reality of Indian men and total hypocracy of Indian culture. Kudos and keep it up. keep bringing this to light. I am too weak to help fight this physically but with you in full spirit.

    “I am giving one link here: It tells you that “preventing situations from developing in the first place is important…Do not promote undue familiarity, especially if you are a woman. Indian women keep a good distance from men who are strangers. Touching, even hand shaking, is inappropriate.” This site is for tourists but believe me it’s pretty mild. They don’t want to frighten away the tourists. The documents you get in India for Indians are far more revealing and hard-hitting.
    My advise may not be politically correct and it may not be perfect but then these are just guidelines, that’s all. Every individual is different and every individual situation is different.”

  55. October 29, 2007 10:43 am

    I am from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. There if any person tries to feel up a girl, and if that girl raises an alarm, then the guy will be beaten up so badly that he will never even try to feel up any other woman in his whole life

  56. Sahil permalink
    December 21, 2007 10:14 pm

    What you have mentioned in this thread is -symptoms and I wish to talk a little on the disease!

    The only big reason eve-teasing is such a serious problem in India; we are still a sexually repressed society – sex is a taboo subject and can stir up controversies in the most unlikely of places. It has something to do with hypocrisies we Indians have about sex. Look at Khusboo, Shilpa Shetty, Sushmita Sen – all of them ended in trouble when they chose to expres their frank opinions on sex. The very mention of sex in educational establishments can have your career ruined.

    Men being Men now (and Indian men are among the most virile men on Earth), they seriously don’t have anywhere to express their outlet to such repressed emotions. So the “best” they can do is hang out in crowds of 8-10 and make lewd comments on passing women. Biologically speaking, I really don’t think men who have lost their virginity and are otherwise, more satisfied in their sexual lives will get any satisfaction from eve-teasing.

    When I was in college, I was friends with plenty of such eve-teasers -they used to hang outside locations, smoke cigarettes, drink tea and yes, resort to eve-teasing whenever an attractive female walked past them. OK here’s a closet secret: when I asked the eve-teasers the process of human reproduction, 9 out of 10 did not know that the female vagina is the place which gives birth to babies! But rather ALL pregnancies are solved using caesarian-kind operations! Can you believe it? Many of them hadn’t seen a naked human female, not even in pornography. So you can imagine their psychological condition as far as sex is concerned -needless to say most of them were virgins.

    I don’t really want to talk solutions to this problem as I don’t want to risk a Khusboo or Sushmita Sen myself. But yes, our Victorian prudery in Indian society is the number one reason eve-teasing problem exists in India.

    Parents – Let Boys behave like Boys and allow them have some fun, legally (because many of them already do it) and you’ll automatically see a dip in eve-teasing across the country,

    The North-Eastern states have practically no eve-teasing because their culture promotes healthy habits of sex.

    The only good thing is attitudes towards sex in the country are now fast changing – say thanks to Mallika Sherawat for taking this taboo word out of the closet. We only need to continue this liberation process, gradually – and future generations of Indians can be expected to be more mature as far as sex is concerned.

  57. December 22, 2007 8:43 am

    @ Sahil:

    Thanks. I tend to agree with you that repressed sexuality is one of the main causes of eve-teasing. But our stupid politicians (the quasi-religious political parties of all hue) cannot see this basic thing! Instead of educating people and accepting that sex, like hunger and thirst, is a physical need, they prefer to exploit the sentiments of a hypocritical and prudish electorate.

  58. December 22, 2007 10:20 am

    Wow, great article.

    Most men don’t know and understand this stuff..

    The only time I noticed it was when my sis-in-law and I were walking and a guy passing by was staring at her. It was just one guy and his audacity surprised me.

    One of my friends living in USA had said that she would consider coming back to India only if her baby is not a girl. She did not want her girls to grow up in a society full of lewd remarks and gropings. It makes a bit more sense now.

  59. December 22, 2007 10:58 am

    @ anand:

    Thanks. And as you mentioned, it’s also staring that can get uncomfortable. And you know at what these eve-teasers stare!

  60. December 22, 2007 11:45 am

    After reading this article and the comments, I guess what gets to me the most — besides the fact the cops do nothing — is that anyone would label eve-teasing “innocent”! Eve teasing is wrong on so many levels. If it’s “innocent” then so is racism.

  61. December 23, 2007 8:16 am

    @ Paul:

    Thanks for reading through the long post and comments. Well, cops are but picked from our population and you will be surprised how many men here feel nothing is wrong with a bit of eve-teasing! Many of our movies show girls getting harassed by the leading man and finally they give in to his “wooing.”

  62. December 25, 2007 1:00 am

    Hey… I am an Indian Guy and I have heard stories about molestation of foreigner women in India. One of them was south korean woman. It is really sad that such incidents keep on happening in India despite the good education of Indians. Ususally, the guys who do it are often less educated. They live in slums and usually follow the path of crime to make their livelihood. Cops in India are not as good and effective as their image in your country is projected. Here, even Indian men and women stay away from cops because are corrupted to the highest extent. The best way to come to India is with some friends and make some genuine Indian friends who can help you to stay in India. Good Luck and Sorry for your experiences.

  63. Raj permalink
    January 2, 2008 9:56 pm

    Nita,
    Thanks for giving these tips to women,especially foreign women who know nothing about the psyche of Indian men.

    Though I am an Indian guy,I feel terribly ashamed of the attitude of my countrymen.Indian men are among the most shameless creatures on earth.You have compared the attitude of men towards women in India and Tanzania.I think there would be very few countries on earth where men have such a disgusting view of women.

    I would advise foreign women to think thrice before they travel alone to India.If you must,it would be better to travel in large groups and take precautions in crowded places.Believe me,’eve-teasing’ is a very mild term for what really goes on here.Though some cities may be better than others,no place is really free from nasty men.

  64. January 3, 2008 1:46 pm

    Hi Nita,
    I support your approach of solving this problem(atleast temporarily) from the first person(single woman)’s point of view. Yes, those would exactly be the steps I would take if I was a woman unless some thing devine happened in india that transformed men and women to behave like angels. A long lasting solution would be to use technology to identify the culprits and punish them on the spot with public humiliation. A perfect punishment would be making the culprits a public property for an appropriately specified lenghth of time(They look really nice in animal cages. Don’t they?). While, we can’t depend on our political system for this to happen, there are some good people out there who can make it to happen for us with evidence on scene.

  65. January 4, 2008 4:00 am

    Nita, good writing. And as I can see the comments evokes public sentiment, its good for the society.
    I see that you have stayed in bangalore, do check my blog – http://www.bangalorebeats.com, if you get time.

  66. divya permalink
    January 4, 2008 9:57 pm

    its just disgustic how some men could be so barbaric n uncivilised.! they view other women like they are dolls or property.! wat they need to understand is evry woman is someone’s sister and daughter…..im sure they wont even come close to imaginign th same thing happening to thier family members..
    this incident is definately shocking.. but it brings out th reality.. and we should spread awreness…n shame all all those DISGUSTING MALE WHO HAVE NO VALUES .

  67. Manoj Chanchawat permalink
    January 5, 2008 9:58 am

    only judgement to such incidents is: Hang such animals in public so that the next animal if ever has something like this in mind, will think twice. The animal who is doing this will never think abt his sisters or mother…

  68. January 5, 2008 10:17 am

    Please, you forgot the most important one: Don’t breath while being female.

    When ALL women are harmed by sexism, telling us to look at the “nice guy who isn’t like that” becomes nothing more than a distraction technique. There comes a point where we have to ask ourselves, “are you idiots ever going to stop?” And if you’re not going to stop, then why should we continue to tolerate any of you? The good that men do for women does not compensate for the harm that men do to all women.

  69. January 6, 2008 3:16 am

    Hi Manoj,
    Hanging them isn’t good enough. They really need to see what the hell is like. Their experience of hell should become a lesson of life time for others. Only then such incidents will recede.

  70. January 25, 2008 5:59 am

    I have done so many of those while overcoming the NRI syndrome. And I do consider myself lucky to be alive.

    Chennai needs to be on your tip list!

  71. January 28, 2008 11:35 pm

    Hi. I just wanted to say, I’ve lived in Cal, off and on, for about sixteen years now and I don’t agree with the bit about Cal being unsafe after dark.

    If you follow some basic guidelines — always carry enough cash for a cab ride home, telephone cab number to the place you are going (loud enough for cabbie to hear), wear appropriate clothing (i.e. covered legs mostly and not very low necks, although this is not necessary in some areas), don’t take a cab with more than one person in front, be prepared to scream if hassled in public transport etc. — really, stuff you would do in any other other city — then Cal is comfortable at night.

    I’ve been helped by police patrols (although I hear that is rare) and have found helpful bus conductors and cabbies. I’ve travelled quite a bit at nights, after parties. I don’t travel alone when drunk or high.

    I’m leaving this comment because I think we should learn caution from the bad incidents, not repression. Your thoughts?

  72. February 10, 2008 5:33 pm

    Sue, your comment has explained exactly how safe Kolkata is! :) In a truly safe city one need have to cover one’s legs, not that I believe for a moment that exposure of legs is what causes molestation. Just being female is enough…plus opportunity.

  73. skyyks permalink
    February 21, 2008 9:54 pm

    Where are we living?? Our culture has great history, rich history and respect for women is once considered as one of our greatest values.. So what happened to the new young indian male, What went wrong , his social status, his upbringing, uncared psychological state of mind, born perverts, who is the culprit here.
    One important thing here is, we cant say all these bad things happen with same intensions, Not everybody who is involved in eveteasing often goes to the extents of molestation.
    Eve teasears mostly do it with that heroic tag attached,or that common feeling in all human beings.. jealousy. . he insults the lady who for sure is living a better social life and feels good for that second.the devil in his mind says that it is the easiest way to make him feel good about yourself. One of the replies said that ppl d it because they have nothing else to do, i agree with that. A women is more than her breasts. And why is this tough to accept for an average indian male. If we start educating school boys with this education we fear the consequnece of they involving in sexual acts at ages that they are not supposed to be, but by thinking that are we not cheating ourselves by doing that. A man must have done all the wrong things in his childhood, he grows up and he wants his son to do all the right things.. RIGHT as defined by the society. When will we ever grow out of this..
    Is there some thing we as a community can do to get the next generation out of this bloddy, not so beautiful frame of mind.

  74. kalra permalink
    March 7, 2008 5:07 am

    As an Indian male, I can say with absolute certainty that this Nita’s views are compleletly correct. This is what women face in India. We Indian men are very very sexually frustrated. On the one hand we get all the raunchy media images and see women all around us on the other hand there is hardly any sexual interaction. Over a period of time this becomes a desperate sexual desire. In such circumstances, we ogle and try to touch and rub and generally take out our frustration.

    Like most other things happening in India, there are many underlying reasons, no well-defined solution, pleting of jabbeirng and accusations and people carry on in this chaos, without solving the problem. No one is ever going to do anything about it.

    Women should take as many precautions in India as possible. I am a man and still know the realities I dont know how ven women can argue India is safe. But then pretending that problem does not exist is also one wy of having a good night’s sleep.

  75. March 22, 2008 8:16 am

    i agree that women should take precautions when in india. however, street harassment (i prefer this term to eve teasing) can happen in ANY circumstance. i was on a trip to hokkenakkal falls with my family, and there were two men with me. these stupid drunk college boys started yelling obscenities at my sister, my cousin, and me! (there were four women and two men total.)

    although much of your advice is practical, i strongly disagree with this one:
    22) Avoid a scene. Do not imagine that the public (no, not even women) or the police will support you. Lewd remarks, leering and touching strange women are not considered serious issues. Women who talk about it are thought to be making too much fuss. Unless ofcourse you are in a decent place and/or in a group…but then this might not happen in the first place. These kind of incidents usually happen when a woman is alone – at a railway station or in a bus.

    if we want to stop street harassment and violence against women, we should speak up! in fact, we should make a HUGE deal out of it. if we don’t, we’re merely contributing to the problem. this isn’t the ONLY solution, granted, but by talking about it and educating society on why it’s NOT ok to harass anyone, we can help stop the problem.

  76. Ravi permalink
    March 22, 2008 12:02 pm

    Opening strip clubs, liberalizing laws on prostitution ala neveda and finally allowing Movie theaters to play soft porn. These could have done something (I guess but not sure) to lessen sexual frustration among indian men.

    But I doubt women’s organizations all over india would accept my ways to stop the nonsense going in india. It’s sad that most of our men are of the opinion that women like to be teased :-( Hell not! I bet she hates to be teased by some random guy on street and its more painful if she happens to be innocent and extremely sensitive to rude behavior.

    I think parents must teach their boys on how to treat women. It’s surprising that indian parents want their son to remain sexually inactive till he gets married (typically in his late 20’s) and never think of their son as a man and their innocent chap have sexual felling since he was 18 or even younger. And that guy uncertain of delivering his frustration ends up in hurting women by teasing them.

    And talking of the people who remain spectators to ill-treatment of women is just an another indian thing. Oh sorry! its a community thing because I had read somebody saying in this blog that an eve teaser will be beaten severely if the girl rings alarm on indecent behavior. Those kind of societies must become an example to others to put this disease of ogling and brushing under control.

    I forgot to mention this: Indian men must get married as early as possible at least by the age of 21. Indian men do not date since our CULTURE doesn’t allow them to engage in such things. Thereby at least allow him to satiate his sexual desires until he gets married by some other means like I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. Its practically not possible to wait for that one woman until he gets 30. Indian men urgently need an alternative in the form of whatever things i had suggested.

    Disclaimer :-)
    Folks! please don’t get mad at me after reading my views. I have no intention of hurting anyone’s feeling or insulting any culture. Think about it and I m serious. The experience that nita had in tanzania indicates that sex-free societies are lot better than our society where sex is still a taboo.

  77. April 14, 2008 6:41 am

    Nta — Did I sound like a jingoistic, city-patriotic, see-no-evil sort of woman? I didn’t mean to. Have travelled alone in all four metros, B’lore and Hyd, love all these six cities as places, but I think Cal’s the safest of the lot simply because the chances of getting help when calling for it are the highest here. That doesn’t mean every person in Cal gets help when they need it, but in my experience, first and second-hand, more help is to be found in this city of busibodies than elsewhere.

    Ravi — I don’t think it’s frustration so much as not being taught to respect other people, that is wrong. I’ve watched nice guys grow up and turn into streetside romeos. From good houses, with a good education (more or less), who had plenty of interaction with decent girls, but who thought girls like street sexual harassment. It’s up to us as a generation to teach our kids this basic respect for other people’s rights and privacy and comfort.

  78. rameshraju permalink
    July 5, 2008 3:42 pm

    Clothing for both men and women offers legitimacy to social distinctions. For men, clothes were mainly indicative of social status. While for women, fashion is regulated not only along lines of social distinction but also along lines of sexuality.

    Styles which expose too much of the feminine body are condemned for their enticement. Such fashions are considered inappropriate for a ‘virtuous’ woman. Whether it is men stare at a woman’s plunging neckline, or women snidely suggesting that the reason a colleague ropes in men are because of her tight skirt, any act of sexual harassment or violence is first attributed to the woman’s clothing, never to the man’s lack of conduct.

    Immodest clothing of women is tempting men to commit crimes like rape, sexual harassment, murders etc. Teen girls should possess the wisdom that certain attires that they wear may not be acceptable to others. Some female workers in companies wear tight attires or tomboyish attires to which male workers are provoked. Therefore women should be careful while choosing their attires. Hence the implementation of dress code in companies, schools, colleges and in temples preserves tradition and culture. It also ensures the protection and respect for women in the Indian society.

    To prevent crimes against women to certain extent there are few precautions.

    1. Its better for girls not go scot free at odd times like tomboys
    2. Always go in groups. Avoid going alone at nights
    3. Stop wearing provoking attires like mini skirts, mini tops, low necks, tight jeans etc. They can help any buck to visualize nude body of a girl.
    4. Instead wear traditional feminine attires like saree, salwar etc.
    5. Feed in your mobile with police numbers, doctor numbers, family members etc.

  79. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 5, 2008 4:47 pm

    Rameshraju,

    Your analysis and advice is all directed to women, implying that it’s entirely their fault if they get molested. You sound like an apologist for male misbehaviour, even justifying it.

    It’s been a long time since I read such horrifyingly MCP opinions. How about a list of do’s or don’ts for men?

  80. Subhradip permalink
    August 2, 2008 5:00 am

    Thats a fantastic topic to talk about.. India is terrible unsafe… definitely for women and absolutely for foreigners from West. Lets accept the fact… how many of us(includes me) who shouts and say its bad, are really good by themselves.. we Indians practice the worst hypocrisy in the world.. worship women goddess and molest womens ! anyway, the first remedy (stop talking about good virtues, proper educations .. all bla bla, those aren’t going to work in a country of billions) is that LAW should be(mandatory) very very strict, complains and punishment must be instantaneous even there is no proof may be , still police must frisk the man.. making it a point that it isn’t a easy job to just slip away… that itself will send a alarm, and trust me, most Indian eve teasers and real cowards and utter shaky, they would eventually give up some day. MAKE LAWS STRICT, PUNISH IMMEDIATELY, atleast hackle the man and that would work some way

  81. Rosh permalink
    January 17, 2009 8:07 pm

    Hi,
    I’ve been to India 3 times…

    it IS extremely unsafe.

    I travelled to Punjab and at 13, i was molested several times as I was entering a cinema there..

  82. Hardeep permalink
    February 8, 2009 10:20 pm

    Good article. I live in Calgary, Canada and have been living here for 27 years. My daughters never expereinced anything like what you have described here until now. And unfortunately the people who have started all this nonsense are INDIANS only!!!! What a shame!

  83. Utpal permalink
    May 11, 2009 5:42 pm

    Hi, I have read your article and want to thnx you for your venerable suggestions.

  84. Magdalena permalink
    September 27, 2009 6:17 am

    Great post, great discussion in the comments too!

    I just want to let you all know that I’ve recently spent a bit more than 4 months in India, travelling solo as a Scandinavian/European woman in my mid-twenties. I’ve been in the South (Mumbai, Mysore, Chennai and various parts of Tamil Nadu, Goa, mid-west Kerala), and I’ve never experienced anything worse than staring. Maybe there have been some lewd remarks, but not directly at me or in a language that I could understand – I never once felt threatened or embarassed. I was behaving carefully, dressed modestly etc but wasn’t overly cautious. However, I’ve talked to many other female travellers, and not all of them have been as lucky as me.
    I just wanted to put this out there to let other tourists know that it is fully possible to enjoy your stay in India. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going there because of this issue, but I totally agree that being careful and prepared is the best way to go.

  85. Manny permalink
    October 20, 2009 2:38 pm

    Its because of the destruction of the Indian society by the “secular left” crowd.

  86. Anneka permalink
    December 29, 2009 4:22 pm

    Thankyou, for the guidelines. I live in Israel and absolutely love it!!!! I have to come back to India soon and I am dreading it. I went to India few months ago and a guy trued to touch me but thankfully i had read an article on quick response and I was alert the whole time. BUT really I don’t wan tot feel like this whole time. I just want to feel safe. It’s funny how all the eve teasing articles are from Indians. I am sorry for your bad experiences but I thankyou at the same tiem for these advices.

    • vasudev permalink
      March 7, 2010 12:25 am

      if u r good looking, we indians might eve tease u. if u r bland looking we know how to let u pass.

  87. Malaysian permalink
    April 11, 2010 2:11 am

    I’m a Malaysian male who’s sister will soon end up studying in India. I’m absolutely disgusted at Indian male attitude as is reflected in your article. Men in India need to learn from us chivalrous Malaysian men who would do anything in our power to save a women in distress. I’m very concerned for the safety of my sibling as soon as she steps out of our safety net.

    • vasudev permalink
      April 13, 2010 4:42 pm

      yep! very dangerous! apart from molesting females (and more so with skimpilly clad ones) we indians now publicly slit their necks as well. so i suggest you better send your sister elsewhere to study.

    • vasudev permalink
      April 13, 2010 4:52 pm

      further, a chief minister of kerala once proudly remarked thus on the tv: ‘molestation? so what? that shows our virility is intact. if there is a good looking female there would be men wanting to feel her…’.

  88. June 20, 2012 3:43 pm

    No matter how effective these guidelines may be, they are in fact in the same spirit of “constant vigilance”, avoiding crowds, taking care of your surroundings and limiting yourselves in one way or the other. You dont have to limit yourself in the way that you dress or carry yourself as long as you’re not doing anything against the law. That’s the sad part because if you do that, you cant even go to law for help… In India it’s about places like goa where being topless on the beach FOR WOMEN is banned… In case of the Vatican City, it’s banned to enter wearing anything above the knees, be it men or women (just owing to the religious issues with the place, but its against the law so you cant do anything about it).

    Why avoid and act as the victim of something that has happened to you? Why not take a stand, get hold of the guy, embarrass him in public, and charge him for molestation. Grab hold of his collar and drag him to the police station if you need to!

  89. Jaydev permalink
    August 1, 2012 11:11 pm

    Respected, Nitaji, I respect you. but i have some my own thought that i would like to share with you. You are absolutely right whatever you said. but I am feel very disappointing when I herd that All Major Molester Found in our county INDIA Where The Female will always Respect as if she were God. why Indians More molester than other country? It is under research. but I have to give you some thought thats you can write to Girls for prevent Molestation (1) When You Drive in Public bus in India You should just Cover your moth With cloths during traveling time in the bus. (2) When You feel molest Just tell Him in the Publicly that “what nonsense.? Don’t do that again otherwise I will slapped. when you can tell this with courage. The Indian men has no Courage to Put the Finger In the Fire. (3) Do not keep silent when you molested, once you will keep silent that mean you Giving a message that you are accepted and allowed him whatever he do. and He will never stop molest. I am Totally agreed With your aforesaid suggestion. ( I have Personally thought that are actual in the life that How molester Produce? Where is the Molester’s factory? i want to share with you but first i want your Permission to allow me to share this with you. I know you will be sure grant me permission. But first i want your reply. Thank you.

  90. January 24, 2013 6:30 pm

    In broad day light I was groped in jaipur which is considered safe for women.One man wearing helmet came on a bike from behind.It happend in a flash.i could not even note the number and I know that even if i did,nothing would have happened.In a country where rapists get away so easily,then how can i expect this pervert to get punished by the stagnant and stinky law system of India.I am ashamed to be an Indian girl.Wish I could die and be born as a boy

  91. June 24, 2013 12:03 pm

    Nita is absolutely right about her advice above. I am a much-travelled Indian who has worked in cities across India. I am 50 +, and a person who can hold her own – yet I follow the same protocol as described above when surrounded by strangers.

  92. August 6, 2014 3:14 pm

    Thank you for this very honest account of what it means to live as a woman in India! Visitors often tend to play it down to make their India experience look more exotic, and its very misleading specially for women traveling to India alone. Calcutta was a safe city once, but unfortunately is not so any more. Rapes, gang rapes, abductions have become a routine thing under the new government (ironically headed by a woman who has openly declared that it is women who bring rape upon themselves). Here are our campaign’s 11 Safety tips for women living in or traveling in India (alone) http://genderbytes.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/11-safety-tips-for-women-travelers/ Also here’s our blog where we report crimes against women. http://violenceonindianwomen.wordpress.com/

Trackbacks

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