Source : Femina
Issue dated: June 8-21
A survey by a Delhi-based NGO spoke to women and their experiences of eve-teasing. The results showed the gruesome realities, the fear and the helplessness females feel in the capital.
By Shweta Taneja
None of us were prepared in self-defense. There was no war. But as soon as we grew up, we knew another kind of war; a constantly waging one with lewd comments, unwanted hands, smirks and lascivious grins. Taking the capital city as the ground area, the Delhi chapter of Association for India's Development (AID) recently conducted a survey which tried to understand the problem of eve teasing and see a possible solution. It took opinions of female respondents in the age group of 17-29 year olds. What came out are the gruesome realities of being a female in the capital city of the world’s largest democracy.
All of us have faced those pinches, grabs, winks, lewd songs or comments in the middle of nowhere or even at places buzzing with people. Out of the 200 women surveyed, 175 of them had one or the other story to tell on eve teasing. Most had a lot of stories. Roadside unwanted attention is the common-most place (75% respondents had faced it there), with the next favourite haunt of the eve-teasers being the public transport (about 55%). Also, unlike what a majority of us seem to believe, eve-teasing does not happen to women who are living alone. 50 % of the women surveyed are living with their parents and they still have a story to tell.
On faced with the situation, most of the women prefer to be quite and move on…with some dignity left. “Usually I try to ignore and avoid them in order to prevent any further chaos...maybe I’m too much of a coward to pick up a fight or protest,” says Kajaria, a 21-year old student. Social stigma and personal safety is the biggest concern. Says Shaguna Dhall, a 27-year old software engineer, “Sometimes I cannot say anything because am too shy to raise my voice or someone is with me or am really scared.” In about 50% of the cases talked about, the woman was alone and faced a group of hooters. Fear for one’s own safety is the foremost in mind for them at that moment. “With individuals it is easy to shout at or slap them. Within a group, it’s difficult to take risks as they can hurt you more,” says 24-year old Anjali.
For those who have reacted, the results are equally frustrating. “I created a hue and cry and shouted at those guys when it got a little physical but there was no response from the public other than laughs,” says Arunima, a 24-year old architect. Faced with it everyday, it has become a way of life for some. “I don’t do anything because when you walk down the road every man looks at you. To how many people can you say anything?” asks Nausheen Fatima, a 19-year old student.
The first reaction when faced with unwanted attention is fear—for your safety and even for the consequences of social retribution. “If we respond to them, they tease more and they tend to retaliate in the future too,” says Sruthi, a student. Agrees Swatika, a 25-year old student, “I don’t do anything because if you say anything, then it only gets worse and you cannot expect support from anyone.” Frustration is the only feeling left for some. “I feel it’s better to ignore them, especially when you’re by yourself. But sometimes, it infuriates me. Maybe because of my helplessness to deal with the situation immediately,” says 21-year old Divyashree Cherala.
For some, the results have been graver. “It affected me psychologically. There were incidents when I used to cry a lot after going home because I was humiliated. It also made me feel unsafe to go on the roads,” says Sruthi. Aparna Bhatia, a 24-year old engineer feels the same, “I feel very unsafe and shocked. My mind gets disturbed even so many days after the incident. I also lose confidence and am very afraid of going anywhere, even to my workplace.” Feelings of aggression and hopes of retribution are the survival points for most. Says Remya, a student, “When I think about certain incidents which were like molestation, my blood boils. Sometimes I feel that women should be allowed to carry guns, especially at night.”
Many know that in Delhi the situation has become really grave. “It destroys my peace of mind and I can’t move around freely. I am seriously thinking of shifting out of Delhi,” says Swatika, a 25-year old student. So what is the solution to this menace in Delhi? The women themselves give some possible answers. “Awareness is needed amongst youngsters and even parents. Most of the times parents stop girls from raising their voice as they are scared of results,” says Shaguna. Sometimes, women are even blamed and considered the reason for eve-teasing. Says Monica, an engineer, “Normally the attitude towards eve-teasing is that the woman herself is attracting attention and so it’s her fault. Women have to be looked upon more respectfully in the society. For this social values have to change.”
In the meantime, an immediate solution lies in police action. “Increased surveillance by the police is essential. Establishing checkposts in areas where there is a lot of incidents of eve-teasing. Also the government should make a hotline number available for girls to call if they are in trouble. Efficient enforcement of law should happen and strict punishment should be given to the perpetrators of eve-teasing. Educating people through mass-media like television and movies telling them the trauma a girl undergoes when she is being eve-teased will definitely help,” says Sruthi. Women should also become aware of tricks in self-defense. “Women should get more educated about what to do in which situation. For example, I had once read an article in Femina titled ‘Public Transport Perverts’. I could pick up quite a few useful tips from that and even used those tips. Public posters should be put up to inform women about what action to take in what case, the way advertising is done by the government for condoms. Also, these solutions should not be of the type of ‘Inform the police’, or ‘Create a noise’. They need to be of the type where the woman herself can take action, for example, pepper sprays,” says a software engineer.
Till the society gets aware, self-awareness is the best solution. “It’s high time that we wake up and stop being diplomatic towards our sisters or our mothers only. Help others in distress. React,” says Neha Tyagi, a journalist. Vigilance and making other women aware that such acts need to be condoned is essential.
* Narrow thinking of male dominated society – Yakshita, copywriting * Most guys don’t get a chance of healthy interaction with girls and hence a frustration develops in them; and probably they gain some sadistic delight out of eve teasing – Akansha, software engineer
* The exposure on television and filthy videos – Reena, engineer
* Pathetic attitude and lewd nature of people – Sanyukta, management trainee
* The fact that it is tolerated by people around. If we had a culture of them being beaten up by public, they wouldn’t dare to make a move - Meghna Kaushik, student
* The temperament of the society, outrageous and scandalizing tantrums of media and the cowardice of the public - S Kritika, student
* Huge mass of unemployed men, lack of sexual awareness and openness, population explosion, and social upbringing of men from childhood – Nilanjana, software engineer
* Frustration level in men due to the hypocritical Indian society where on one hand people multiply like flies while the other hand they tell women to wear ‘burqas’ and not discuss sex. But the main reason is the lack of discipline at home - Sriparna Chatterji, student
* Lack of reaction of women towards eve-teasing and the non-involvement of people around – Gunjan, student
* The society which treats women as objects rather than human beings. Also the lack of fear of the law - our judicial system sucks- gives confidence to the eve-teasers that they will get away with anything – Swatika, student
* The feeling of power in men and boys and the pleasure out of seeing someone helpless. It’s a dare attitude and not really sexual always – Arunima, architect