Why is eve-teasing so common in India?
When I first heard of this incident where a group of boys in Mumbai followed some young girls and then almost ran over one of them in their eagerness to attract their attention I was shocked. The injured girl (just ten years old!) was shown on TV and it was reported that she could be in hospital for several months – it was very disturbing to say the least.
Whats upsetting is that culprits are now free on bail.
Is this what our country is coming to? I know we have no laws strong enough to either deter eve-teasers or to prevent rash driving…but what about public outrage? There was another incident in Mumbai recently where a man deliberately played porno clips on his cell phone while sitting next to a girl in a bus. He kept thrusting the phone close to her face…finally the girl stopped the bus and took the man to the police. Not a single commuter came forward to help her…in fact even the police were reluctant to register the complaint! They felt that she should have simply slapped the man instead of complaining to the police.
It is no big secret that the police don’t take eve-teasing incidents seriously. Eve-teasing is so common that the police are terrified of the flood of complaints they might receive if they did register the complaints! Shame on them.
Is Bollywood the culprit?
Our films are not helping. Those boys in the jeep for example…they followed the girls, and when the girls crossed the road in panic, they made a U-turn to get nearer, and this is when the accident happened. Haven’t we seen umpteen Bollywood movies where the protagonist follows a girl whom he has taken a fancy to, and heckles her until she responds?
There are some people who firmly believe that its Bollywood which perpetuates the myth that girls like to be teased and stared at …there was an interesting comment I read on a post on eve-teasing. The commentator (who lives in Dubai) is convinced that the reason why it is mostly South Asian men who indulge in this behavior is because they watch Bollywood movies. She gives the example of how “Indian and Pakistani labourers go the beaches and sit fully dressed and stare at the women swimmers…”Certainly we have many situations in Bollywood films where the hero’s sidekick ogles and makes an ass of himself when he sees a pretty woman. He thinks nothing of passing comments and approaching her…it is supposed to be amusing…
But its said that films reflect society and not the other way round…well, something is wrong with our society then.
Films will only influence only those who are susceptible. It’s like blaming television for the increasing violence in society…in this article which I wrote for the Times of India, I had spoken to several psychiatrists about whether violent behavior and television viewing was related, and all of them said that it was the home environment which mattered the most. And ofcourse- it also depended on how much TV you watched.
Certainly anyone who lives in the fantasy world of Bollywood will lose all sense of reality. He will fail to see that his favourite heroes on celluloid behave differently in real life. That in fact they are gentlemen. If the actors are acting in stupid movies which put a stamp of respectability on eve-teasing, well, its because film stars do not usually feel that they have a social responsibility. As for the directors, they are the ones who actually believe that a little bit of eve-teasing is harmless…
So common has eve-teasing become is that some men actually consider it the proper way to woo women. On my post on molestation I got several comments from men (I posted one, but deleted the others as they used bad language while referring to women) saying that eve-teasing was a good way to get to know the woman!! He said there was no other way to get to know women in a conservative society like ours. We like to blame lower class men for eve-teasing, but I doubt whether the man who wrote such a comment was a labourer. If he was, he would have been unable to write in English or would not had access to a pc.
There are those (although they do not eve-tease and molest women themselves) who feel that women make too much of a fuss about eve-teasing. Or that its not common…there are actually men who insist that molestation is not common because they haven’t seen it themselves! As if an eve-teaser will grope a woman if he thinks another guy is watching!
Faulty training at home
Where the eve-teasers in India are concerned – they come from a background where they are taught that women who go out are ‘bad’ girls and deserve to be teased. Or that the women don’t mind. Or that eve-teasing is a harmless activity… a way to get to talk to a pretty girl. These men could have also seen men in their own family treat women with scant respect.
Well, its only when the boot is on the other foot that the understanding grows. In this post I have written how a group of boys from the slums were shown how humiliated women feel when they are eve-teased. The program was conducted by social workers and there there was a lot of role-playing. After this the boys changed their attitude towards women…an attitude that had perhaps been ingrained in them by the milieu in which they lived.
Large scale programs need to be carried out by social service organisations to sensitise the boys who are prone to such behavior. These boys can be helped because most of the time they are not evil…they are not rapists and nor are they murderers. Just misguided and ofcourse – idiots.
Its also time that eve-teasing becomes a stigma in our society. Right now its looked upon with far too much indulgence. Men themselves should tell their friends who tend to tease girls that this behavior is unacceptable. If they catch their friend passing a lewd comment they should tell him that this is insulting to women…
Update: I read a report in the DNA this evening which said that the Railway Police conducted a drive to catch eve-teasers and they caught 159 boys (they were all boys below the age of 27) in just 4 days! These are just the ones they caught. Hundreds more must have got away….this makes one realise how widespread the problem actually is.
Related Reading: Methods to prevent public molestation in India
Reasons given by readers for Molestation and some solutions as well
Molestation at the Gateway of India and other incidents
The psychology of rapists
Men who see women as sex objects can improve with counseling
Teenagers in India have to lie about their relationships with the opposite sex
Dating is a prelude to marraige for Indian teens