Imagine you are a woman walking down a road alone. You hear that someone whistling but. Just don’t pay attention to it. After a moment, you hear the sound again, this time a little closer. This feels weird, but you continue walking. You hear the whistle again and this time, the source is definitely closer than before. Before you can do anything, a voice says, “Hey Beautiful Lady” in your ear, and a man’s body brushes past you, pinching your arm as he goes along.
How would you respond?
You will probably be in shock. And the man has probably left the place by the time, you realize that something wrong has happened to you, so you cannot react. Imagine you are walking down the same street a few days later. You hear the whistling again. You walk faster but he catches up with you and this time, he says, “why you are in such a hurry, baby ?” And this time he pinches your waist before he disappears what next? You may start avoiding that road, no matter how much longer the other route is. But what if that road is unavoidable on your route and you cannot afford to take an auto or taxi instead of walking every day. What then? You are not trained in self-defense and learning some form of it is both expensive and time-consuming, so you cannot attack the man the next time he comes close. So, you will probably decide that it is best to ignore it. You deal with your inconvenience, telling yourself that he won’t have the courage to do more than a whistle and pinch in a public place. But can you be sure that it ends there?
India’s Eve Teasing Issue and the Law :
Sexual harassment of a woman in a public place is referred to as Eve-teasing. Such harassment may be verbal, or it may be physical, or it may be done through gestures. Although it seems like a harmless and playful term, eve-teasing often has serious consequences. Several instances that started out as eve-teasing have resulted in rape or murder or acid attacks. Several sections of IPC, outline the various forms of eve-teasing snd spell out the punishment in such cases. These range from fines to prison sentences up to 7 years. Although the IPC does not use the term ‘eve teasing’ explicitly, it penalizes acts that constitute eve-teasing. Some of these are performing obscene acts including singing obscene songs in public, assaulting a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty, and displaying objects or uttering words that include a woman’s privacy.
Separate state governments have specific acts as “Eve teasing”. Despite all this, we don’t often come across eve-teasing cases in the news. Perhaps this is because not many women report these cases. But eve-teasing deserves as much as important as these issues because it is the same mindset that leads to crimes. Society telling men more than women and telling men that they may do as they please with women is what makes one man beat his wife at home and another group a stranger on the street.
Back to the scenario, you want to take action against the men who have been harassing you on the streets.
1. The first resort would be to file a police complaint. 2. The second option is to hire a lawyer. The courts in the past held men accountable for harassing women in public places. In Kerala, a man who winked at women and forcibly held her hands was found guilty of outraging her modesty as she had no reciprocate his advances.
Eve teasing is not only a serious disturbance to you and me and at a personal level, but also a social evil addressed by Indian law.
Few helpline numbers for complaint against eve-teasing in India:
1. National Commission for Women Helpline – 011 26944880
2. UP Police Women Power line – 1090
3. SHE Team Hyderabad- 100
4. Punjab police – 181