Woke.’s Sri Vishwanathan looks at Street Harassment in India and South East Asia
Why do you think eve teasing (street harassment of women) is taking place in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South East Asia? It’s been going on for more than ten years and it is getting worse. Here our reporter Sri looks at the issue through research she carried out with colleagues in Chennai recently.
WHERE DOES THIS ATTITUDE COME FROM?
To dominate and grab attention among their male peer group
Young Indian men usually think that they only get recognition when something unique/shocking is done. When they are in groups they get that extra feeling of power and they don’t fear anything. So they show off in a hateful way that dominates women, as said by 40% of women through a survey in Chennai in 2015 in which 100 women aged 15-35 took part.
No respect towards the opposite sex
The parents themselves knowingly or unknowingly create a mindset for the children that boys are to dominate and girls are to adjust.
15% of the sample thought that this has to be changed to some extent.
‘Provocative dressing’ by women
30% of women told us, women must know what to wear and what not to wear when they go out alone.
Leniency is unfairly shown by the society towards male offenders:
When does a person keep repeating the mistakes again and again? When proper punishments are not meted out, then guys come to a conclusion that nothing major is going to happen to them when they do “eve-teasing”.
15% of women think that this is the reason why eve teasing takes place.
WHY DO YOU THINK EVE-TEASING IS MORE PREVALENT IN INDIA?
People are conservative and are not modern in their thinking
Though people tell us that they are broad minded and modern, their thinking does not abide by their words. Elders think that if a girl wears chudidhar(full dress) than she is not eve-teased. But that is totally wrong although 31% of the sample chose that as a reason.
Male dominated society:
As we know, women are known for “adjusting”. Even our mother says this: do not shout at others, keep in mind that you are a girl.
23% of the sample said this the sole reason as to why eve teasing takes place – parental upbringing.
15% said Punishments are not severe enough and this is the reason eve teasing still takes place in our society.
Illiteracy was also one of the more common answers chosen by 31%.
WHICH PLACES ARE MORE PRONE TO EVE-TEASING?
Beaches, railway stations,roads and bus stands are the four main and major areas where eve-teasing takes place predominantly. Based on the analysis of the question, the statistics show us that eve teasing takes place mostly on roads and the least on beaches.
HOW WILL YOU PERSONALLY TACKLE SUCH A SITUATION?
Eve-teasing causes a lot of hurt, pain and anguish to women and scars them for life in some if not all cases.It affects them emotionally and psychologically and reduces their dignity in society.There are different ways in which women tackle these situations.They sometimes stare and walk away or probably more brave women may resort to slapping the offending male.Women may go and complain to the police or they may respond by approaching the perpetrators.On collecting and analysing the data, it was found that most women would just walk away and a few may complain to officials.
WHAT PUNISHMENTS AND LAWS DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED SO THAT EVE-TEASING IS CURTAILED?
Imprisonment for life
Should the person who is responsible for insulting the woman be given life long imprisonment so that he understands his mistake and respects women.
The government should impose heavier fines
The government is currently (2015) imposing rs.500 for persons involved in eve-teasing and it should be increased as people take it very lightly. They should be ashamed to pay the fine.
Punishments based on behaviour
Punishments should be given based on the extent to which the offender behaves. The more seriously the woman is sexually harassed or insulted, the more severe the punishment should be.
More helplines should be established
The woman should be able to access more help and many police stations and public help centres should be there to help girls.
WHY DO YOU THINK EVE-TEASING STILL POSES A SERIOUS PROBLEM IN TODAY’S SOCIETY?
Because women are very sensitive
Women in India are very sentimental and they get affected very easily. They are considered as the‘weak sex’ so eve-teasing poses as a serious problem.
Men are afraid that women will become a more powerful sex
Today’s women have started to be bold and confident and they come to work,so men fear women and they get involved in eve-teasing.
Women dress ‘provocatively’
Many city brought-up girls dress in the eyes of others: ‘vulgarly’ and it ‘automatically provokes’ men to harm them. Women in India are expected to dress ‘decently’.
Many men do these acts for attention.
Many men in India are illiterate and they tease women to get public attention.
HOW CAN THE PUBLIC RAISE THEIR VOICES AGAINST IT?
This question was asked to find out how exactly they tackle such situations and whether they actually retaliate to the eve teasers by stepping up to help the victim or whether they shrug it off and walk away.
30% of the public sample answered that they would help out and stand up for the victim.
10% of people said they would help by fighting with the eve-teasers. Almost 50% of the sample of 100 said that mature thinking was the way to solve this problem i.e. Men accepting what women wear.
Finally, 10% said that the perpetrators should be punished in public places.
WHAT MEASURES SHOULD PEOPLE TAKE TO ENSURE THAT EVE-TEASING CASES ARE ACTUALLY REPORTED TO POLICE?
The main problem relating to these eve teasing cases today are that either women shrug it off or they are too afraid to approach the officials.
35% of the people said that women should report their personal experience to the media.
20 % of the people said that it is the police who should instill confidence in the minds of women.
20 % said that it is high time women stop being afraid and started to be confident.
Finally 25% of the people said that it is the government’s job to provide security in this area.
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK MEDIA CAN HELP IN OVERCOMING THIS ISSUE?
Regular offenders should be captured on camera and be humiliated said 26% of the sample.
14% said that by publishing stories of people who have tackled such situations successfully the problem will be become better.
31% said the media should help in the redressal process especially when women are afraid to complain to officials. The media is considered to be the watchdog of society.
29% said that women should be taught to defend themselves so they can handle such situations.
Therefore we concluded that the women in our society think that the media should help in helping us tackle this social problem and that magazines, newspapers, websites and news channels should cover such stories so as to increase awareness among women in society.
DO YOU THINK EVE-TEASING AFFECTS ONLY WOMEN?
This question was asked to basically find out if people thought eve teasing was an issue which was aimed only at women.
Although 56% of the sample said that it affected only women 33% of the people were not sure if this issue encompassed both the sexes.
Furthermore, 11% felt that this was a problem which affected men also.
The number of cases of eve-teasing has yet to decrease —according to an officer’s report, last year’s statistics were potentially the highest ever. And, those statistics don’t even take into account the number of cases that go unreported.
The laws need to be stringent. A fine of maximum 5000 Rs and imprisonment of maximum 5 years is definitely not going to be enough to curb sexual offences against women. The government has created laws to protect women in workplace also but they need to be safe everywhere.