Playful Eve Teasing? Or Is It Sexual Harassment?

8 years ago

It is not just limited to young boys or rickshaw pullers but men from all walks of life are guilty of it – young or old, educated or uneducated, clerk babu or engineer. It does not matter where one comes from; harassing women is a widespread phenomenon across India. Organizations like Blank Noise seek to explore street dynamics and recognize Eve Teasing as street sexual harassment. Blank Noise is out to set the record straight about the correlation between women’s clothing (from sari to mini-skirt to bikini) and lewd behavior.

Eve Teasing has become an integral part of our social life that you can see it in every nukkad, gali, mohalla, school, college, office, bus, train, sabji mandi, cinema hall, bus stand, train station or airport. Boys right from a young age learn that it is ok to pass lewd comments and girls learn to ignore it. In this process, we train our girls to accept abuse. Bad behavior continues to perpetuate as the social environment encourages it. So, why do we even wonder when these young girls grow up and remain silent victims of dowry, rape and other heinous crimes?

Why is eve teasing so common? Well…so many men do it and hardly anyone gets caught or punished. Even if you get caught there is barely any harm done. Firstly, we do not have any tracking system based on identity so that people can always be tied back to their deeds when they apply for college or search for jobs (There is some police tracking for hard core criminals only). Secondly, eve teasing is not considered a serious offence at all with a “chalta hai” (careless) attitude. Thirdly, by labeling sexual harassment as eve teasing, millions of men feel that they are engaging in a fun activity, on their way to college or office, with little risk of being caught. Finally, the general attitude that it must be women’s fault creates a major hurdle for women to stand up for their rights. The widely held notion, what you wear defines how you get treated by men in public places, puts the blame (and responsibility) on women instead of holding men accountable for their actions.

Let us not fool ourselves. Harassing women is not teasing. Staring, whistling, winking, blowing kisses, passing lewd comments, singing cheap songs, rubbing, groping, touching, and stalking women are all different forms of sexual harassment. It is not funny, and we should not be proud of it. 

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