Many believe that it is the clothing of women that elicits such uncouth behaviour, but the sad truth is that even conservatively dressed Moslem women who wear a burqa over their clothes leaving only the eyes and feet visible are subjected to it. There are different levels of eve teasing and the very word teasing kind of belies the actual scale of harassment it implies. Women are subjected to lewd remarks, cat calls, outstretched hands that reach out for their private parts, pinching and even groping.
I have witnessed episodes of eve teasing that have left me feeling distressed, oppressed, used, wishing I was not born a woman. In the wake of the Chennai incident where a girl killed herself due to eve teasing, the government started patrolling the area of crime and posted female sentries in disguise. But that was only a knee jerk reaction and lasted just as long.
In a country that has such a huge population and so little police force it is just a matter of time before all is forgotten. Public memory is so short and the issues so many in a country like India, that eve teasing gets swept under the rug. Since no help is forthcoming from the government, Indian woman have devised several ways of dealing with this menace. They always carry a bag with a long shoulder strap so the bag can be moved behind to cover their backs and the other arm holds an umbrella that helps protect the front.
They walk fast while their eyes constantly assess the men. They instinctively know which ones are trouble, it’s like they have an inbuilt antenna or perhaps its something passed down genetically from one woman to another woman over years of oppression at the hands of men in a male dominated society. The brave ones will confront the eve teasers and even slap them occasionally or whack their umbrellas at them. However most women prefer to go their way swallowing their feelings of pride and embarrassment, not because they are scared to hit out, but because they are afraid of the consequences. There is the fear that the perpetrator of the crime will come the next day with reinforcements, or worse still the perpetrator might follow them home and try to accost them when they are alone. Women avoid walking in dark lanes and almost always avoid places that are deserted. And when they see men in groups they try to avoid those places too. The need of the hour is to have more coeducation schools so men are exposed to women from a very young age and grow to mutually respect each other.
Mothers must teach their sons to treat women with respect. Boys who see their fathers treating their mothers with respect will automatically grow into men who think likewise. Boys and girls should be allowed to mingle freely so that they learn to respect each other’s individuality. Men need to realize that every woman is some mans wife, or daughter, or sister, or mother; and must be treated with the same respect, they would accord their own.