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“Eve Teasing”: Indian Crackdown on Sexual Assault

“Eve Teasing”: Indian Crackdown on Sexual Assault

Sexual harassment and assault is a serious and serial problem for women in every country across the world. India is just one example, where,  as a BBC article argues, “you can wear a trench coat and be covered from head to toe in the depths of an Indian summer but a man with indecent intentions will still try his best to ruin your day.” Yet, such lewd verbal and physical persecution can be carried out with relative impunity.

From my own experiences in India, I know first-hand how street harassment is commonplace and divorced from how you look or what you’re wearing. Sewing extra buttons into my plain canvas shirt, wearing thick grey trousers and foregoing all hygiene – let alone beauty – regimes, I was still attacked by men and boys of all ages on a daily basis. At one point, this even led to my being surrounded by three generations of jeering men whilst attempting to escape in a sub-standard peddlo across Lake Abu!

This behavior, from molestation and “flashing” to anything short of rape, is referred to in India as “Eve teasing.” But this phrase hides the insidious and violating nature of such actions. Under international law, all acts perpetrated against women causing physical, sexual or psychological harm – including threats to take such acts – are defined as violence against women. It is clear: women are not “teased,” they are harassed.

Whilst “Eve teasing” has traditionally been widely tolerated, things may be about to change. In late 2011, two young men were fatally stabbed in Maharashtra state while defending their female friends against a gang of “Eve-teasers.” In response, Valerian Santos, father to one of the victims, is calling for the state government to overhaul the way it deals with sexual crimes. By doing so, Santos adds his voice to a growing group of campaigners demanding change. In response, the Maharashtra government has committed to making laws tougher and ensuring public areas are policed more vigilantly.

Sexual harrassment should never be tolerated. It demeans and it violates. Creating laws that criminalize harrassment is the first step. But, as India demonstrates, these laws are worthless unless respected and enforced. The second step is therefore cultural change. Valerian Santos and his fellow campaigners are at the front of this cultural shift. Let’s hope their government listens and that others follow.

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Photo Credit: Christian Haugen

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6:31AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

There is an old English saying: horses for courses.

If I were in charge I would stop this violence against women in 3 months ~ throughout India. The social and cultural depravity is too sick for half-measures that would be implemented, except sporadically. We need something surgical to cut out this cancer in the body politic. No half measures.

Let me give you an illustration of effective action against the likes of thieves and rapists. The Officer in charge (OIC) of my local Police station here in Colombo said that when he as appointed here the level of pickpocketing was shocking. He stopped it in 3 WEEKS. The first three pickpockets caught on his watch had their hands broken. End of story. NO PICKPOCKETING now.

If one rapist was publicly castrated, without benefit of anaesthesia (did their victim have anaesthesia?) and it was done on television and broadcast live across the country the raping would stop. IMMEDIATELY.

We have to stop being bleedin' heart liberals and realise these people have to be spoken to in a language they understand. Castration in public without anaesthetic is a language they understand.


6:06PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

In the land of Hinduism, where every bad act is punished by bad Carma, why is it that Indian men feel they can behave badly towards women with impunity both by the civil and the divine law?
In a land where cows are not killed thousands of girls are killed soon after birth and women murdered in the infamous "dowry murders."
In a country with revered female deities and prominent female leaders (eg. Gandhi) why are women thought of so low?
A wrong turn somewhere has led to a women-hostile culture and this can only change by a determined, long-term intervention by cultural, political and religious leaders. If not, things will get much uglier, as development increases the differences between the various sections of this vast nation.

9:20PM PDT on May 20, 2012

Thanks for the article. Hope things change soon.

2:26AM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Sexual harrassment should be a crime. I hope the government makes it one and enforces it.

3:27PM PST on Jan 31, 2012

Thanks. I hope for changes too.

4:37PM PST on Jan 30, 2012

I can only say that such incidences are a BLOT ON OUR NATIONAL FABRIC and every Indian male should be ASHAMED OF IT.
There was a sarcastic view on this under the heading "News Headlines in 2050" - A FULLY CLAD TEENAGER IN DELHI WALKED 50 METERS WITHOUT BEING MOLESTED. This say plenty where the nation is headed to. This is because our laws are good and stringent but the implementation is very poor. What can one expect when the keepers of law in this country JEERS the victim.
I again remember the lines of Indian writer and columnist, now 97 years young - Khushwant Singh penning many years ago - THE TROUBLE WITH AN AVERAGE INDIAN MALE IS THAT HE HAS MORE SEX IN HIS BRAINS THAN IN HIS GROINS.'This says all

2:55AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Interesting that a males have to die before action is taken.

6:30AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

this is horrible

3:37AM PST on Jan 28, 2012

Very informative ... and horrifically shocking ...

10:10AM PST on Jan 27, 2012

Thanks for the information.

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