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Pruthvi Banwasi

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Eve Teasing Evils

Chapter One

Eve Teasing - A Pedagogy

The truth about eve teasing

No girl has been spared from being a victim of eve teasing. This is the harsh reality in India, essentially so in any of the 4000 odd cities and towns in India. Eve teasing is a deplorable act that injects shame, fear, disgust and helplessness in the victim. Being subjected to many instances of eve teasing is an inseparable part of every girl's life causing much avoidable mental agony to her. This in turn adversely affects her family and her friends.

This truth stares at the face of a girl much before she reaches adolescence. Eve teasing is a common incident, be it in buses, shopping arcades, cinema halls, shopping malls, pubs, restaurants, auto/bus-terminals, railway booking counters and every other conceivable place; but the one place where it happens with alarming frequency is on the road. Girls are never spared in the streets, the most harrowing ones in Bangalore being those near women's colleges, in shopping malls and complexes, on Brigade road, MG road and Commercial street.

A lewd stare, a sly whistle, a well-timed clap, an unwarranted bump, a seemingly casual touch, a lingering look at a vulnerable time, the humming of a suggestive song, passing downright uncouth comments, cheap gestures, the display of an indecent snap or video, bikes flying close with hands stretched to grope you, passing by in slow moving cars blasting loud music with many eyes inside measuring you up... all these are typical examples of eve teasing.

The ways an eve teaser can harass a woman is surely endless! School children, well-dressed executives, college kids, auto-drivers, bus-conductors, pedestrians, officials, cine-goers and aged people too have been slaved to this horrific habit.

The profile of an eve teaser

The average eve teaser is a crafty person, the kind who is sans close interaction with women. His having witnessed many incidents of disrespect to women at home might also have added to this perversion. He also huddles with other men and discusses women in a cheap manner. As Anu Santosh, renown Aerobics Instructor states, It has something to do with their upbringing, or some insecurity in him that he takes out by targeting girls, a tacky way of feeling macho!

Eve teasing begins as an attempt to irritate a girl or catch her attention, probably by a whistle or a clap, or by drooling behind tinted windows in a car blaring songs like ?Tumse milne ko dil karta hai?, ?What is mobile number??,  Aye, Kya bolti tu? Aati kya khandaala??

An eve teaser gains confidence when he notices that the girls he abuses do nothing to harm hi. Encouraged by this inaction he graduates to more active abusive ways like passing uncouth comments or attempting physical contact.

He relishes watching the girls spew fiery words on him or squirm in disgust. Walking on this deplorable path he finally dons the garb of a veteran by frequently taking pervert pleasure in disrobing their dignity. When a girl confronts him directly and questions his rude behavior he either feigns indifference or walks away as if the retort did not affect him at all(though he does squirm inwardly).

The eve teaser is fully aware that his act is against minimum standards of morality yet he becomes the prototype of a spineless coward when accosted or caught by others. He will feign innocence, swear on his dear life that he was far from the very thoughts of eve teasing, claim that his innocent actions have been viciously misconstrued and behave like a meek victim caught in a web of deceit; he will go to any extent to slither away.

On being caught red-handed and reprimanded for their acts the most common explanation used by most eve teasers is, Please excuse me, this is the first time. He might otherwise be bold and arrogant initially, claiming that it was not at all his fault and that others have read a little too much into his unintentional act, it is only after he is dragged to the police station and taken to task that he accepts his fault and pleads for mercy.

An interesting aspect here is that an eve teaser will not reveal his address or allow the police to contact his residence. He will willingly spend time in the lock-up and pay up any amount as fine. He will do anything as long as he ensures that his family is oblivious to his act of eve teasing.

A typical example being A. Rao who drove his swank car in a manner that made the rear-view mirror caress a girl walking by, his act made her disgust herself and she screamed at him. That was when I rushed and asked him if his behavior was anywhere near decent. To which he claimed that he was A police officers neighbor as if that gave him instant and understandable immunity to indulge in such acts or in the hope that he would throw a scare in people like me who accost him and question his acts.

The profile of a victim of eve-teasing

Simran Luthra recollects her first brush with eve teasing, ?I was barely 6 years and was returning home with my sister when I heard her scream at a stranger and she started yanking me and we ran home.? Many like Simran have experienced it at an early age, this trauma is unending, it worsens when they reach adolescence and shows no sign of abating even after they are married and with kids.

As Anila Anand, the renown model coordinator rightly asserts, Unfortunately, eve teasing is faced by many girls at a tender age when they are so confused about the way they look, their physical selves and the changes happening to them that they are unsure as to how to react.

The impact it had on Yogita Madhu, was something else, ?On being eve teased as a girl I was shocked at the depravity of culture in men, earlier as I was very shy I had withdrawn further and it had an extremely adverse impact on me.

As Sneha, a house-maker (whose career was cut short by the increasing instance of eve teasers harassing her incessantly) concurs,To a small girl it is very traumatic, as they grow older they are at least not jolted by it even though they have no clue as to how they ought to handle themselves when they face such acts.

The disturbing statement that Rizwana (yet to reach her teens) makes, shows that eve teasing has an impact on small girls too, The first time I was eve teased by a wrong touch on the roads, I was too small to even gauge it as unwarranted, I was walking back home with my elder sister when I felt somebodys hand on my back. It was only after my elder sister picked up a fight with the stranger who had touched me that I realized something wrong had happened that evening. This gave me nightmares for a long time.

Girls are unsure of the very definition of eve teasing. Kaizer Karachiwala, a graduate from National Law School of India University explains, At times I see a man mouthing something within his breath that makes me feel filthy, I know by instinct that he has behaved in a base manner but dare not ask others around to take action as it is a Catch 22 situation. Anila agrees, As a victim one is not very sure if others will brush you away and insist that you are over-reacting.

Sneha adds, I know that eve teasing affects a loner or an introvert to a deep extent, like any other adolescent girl I was fickle, sensitive and unsure about myself. Parents dont expect you to confront this problem at so young an age. As a child I did not know whether I was pointing a wrong in the first place or if it was not okay to discuss it with my parents. Even though they were very understanding and I could be open about anything I was hesitant, what about those girls whose parents might not be as easy to relate to as mine Who do they turn to with such issues?

The gravity of this truth hits one hard. Girls are hesitant to inform their parents about an incident of eve teasing; as they know from past experience that they would be the only ones to be affected adversely. Their activities and clothes would fall under scrutiny, late nights would be curbed, wantonly by strict parents and on a sub-conscious level by parents who are supportive.

With a note of caution one has to also consider this view point; Is she the victim or the victor? as queried by B. S. Gowri, (an ex-teacher) who presents the other side of the story. In a few cases, if a girl is very honest to herself she knows she is not always an innocent victim, for in some known way she has contributed to it. Though rare, there are instances of girls leading men but in the case of an eve teaser her act of attracting attention will receive an uncultured response and she too gets alarmed when things go out of hand.

Typical instances of eve teasing

For a woman, a simple thing like waiting on the road for a bus is made traumatic when sick comments are made by eve teasers. While having chaat on the roadside a woman hears some snickering that makes her feel wretched about herself. In a bus people accidentally bump into them, at times even the conductor attempts to act fresh; they consciously avoid getting mauled while getting out of a cinema hall. They have to definitely be on their guard all the time when in the market or a shopping mall, ever watchful of common people taking complex routes to display their lack of culture.

At times they are not conscious of the act but later they know that someone had acted funny, the way the petrol bunk assistant touched their fingers while returning the keys or the way the man in the queue brushed past them in a seeming hurry to go ahead but found time to cast a glance at them to capture their reactions. Any such avoidable contact that makes them feel defiled amounts to eve teasing.

Women who are on a vehicle are easy targets; bikes chase them and they get even more hyper if an attempt is made to roll up the windows. The eve teasers say lewd things and swerve in front of them and if they try to speed away from these miscreants, the eve teasers seek thrill in ripping behind them in a hazardous manner, proving that their speed is not skill based.

For those women who decide to drive faster, they follow the hapless women and honk at them but wont overtake them. At times they come very close to them and stare while speeding or say something smart; anything to get their attention.

As Kaizer remarks, A walking girl is an easy target. For example, it is not uncommon for others to accidentally bump into girls all the time on Brigade road. We are very cautious while walking on the pavements there and if there is no other go, then we claw our way through and have specially devised tactics to handle the eve teasers. Our elbows are always jutting out to spike into any dubious character with a devious intention. Her sister Sabrina adds, I call walking on MGs or Brigades an Obstacle Race, girls literally run to avoid these cheapos and we get to win when we pass all the hurdles that these shmucks put up unscathed.

Maya Chandra, an entrepreneur is overcome with disgust when she recollects a cat call that was directed towards a physically challenged girl sitting in a car, it aggrieved her to come to terms with the existence of such creeps in this world.

 Oh! What am I wearing today! Nidhi Rammanohar, an ex-student of Jain College ponders when she sees an eve teaser on the road, These guys make you conscious even while sporting a decent Salwaar Kameez, the way they get a kick out of this its dumb! We end up getting seriously jacked!

Anu ties her hair up to look like a guy to avoid these creeps stalking her while she is riding on the roads, They try to talk to you and irritate you. This messes up your very frame of mind, the irritation affects you after you reach home, your mood is messed and the incident is etched for a while in your minds, even making you crabby with your own children.

In a pub a woman is considered to be fair game, morality takes a back seat here as a girl entering the pub has willingly put herself in danger. As Aarti Bharghav, a mother of 9 year old Anjali states says, A woman at a pub has every right to be there, though being in a pub is not the attribute of our culture, times are changing today and I also know of many who hold wedding anniversaries in pubs. A pub is nothing but a glorified liquor shop and I, as an Indian woman have not been cultured to be at a pub and my daughter too will be requested to not make it a part of her culture later in her life.

Notwithstanding what I have said above, I still defend the right of any girl to be at any place at any point of time. I agree that she had a choice to not be there at that place of obvious disrepute, but then that is not reason enough for a man to act smart with her.

All these incidents do not totally scare the girl but does irritates her. Sneha, who confronted eve teasers everyday while commuting to her computer classes states, Horribly sick is what these creeps are, I feel like talking to a hardcore eve-teaser and finding out what cheap thrills he gets out of this!

Defining eve teasing

Kaizer Karachiwala presents the legal provisions in the Indian Penal Code, where Section 506 of Chapter 22 chalks Criminal Intimidation, Annoyance and Insult and awards a maximum of 2 years or fine or both to anyone who uses assault or criminal force on women with an intent to outrage her modesty. A word, gesture, remark, sound, act or even an object held that is intended to insult the modesty of a woman is punished with Simple Imprisonment for a year or fine or both under Sec 354.

What is to be given here is not a maximum sentence but a minimum mandatory sentence. The logic of causing a deterrent effect was well-laid in the classic case of Zafar Ahmed where a Rickshaw-wallah caught saying Aaja meri jaan! Meri gaadi mein baith jaa! to a few Muslim women was giving the maximum punishment, considering the impossibility of a high conviction rate in such cases. The logic being that when such a serious stand is taken by the authorities it will cause a deterrent effect to a greater extent.

The legal provisions should not define this offence from the offenders point of view but through the eyes of the victim, the proper way of doing so would be to redefine eve teasing as any act or omission that makes any woman (an inclusive definition for a girl) feel vulnerable and violated.

One day out of the blue, my wife, Yogita Madhu, after editing this entire book said to me while we were watching a program on tv, I have been eve teased so many times as a small girl. It is only after reading the book that I realized that they qualified to be eve teasing.

How to handle eve teasers

The victims of eve teasing find it safest to ignore the eve teasers or refrain from reacting because they are unsure about themselves and about every aspect of this social evil.

Nirupama Rajendra, a sincere exponent of Kathak in Bangalore recalls the way she handled an eve teaser while in school, There was this guy who persistently followed me when I used to go to school on a cycle. One day I gathered enough courage to stop and ask him what he wanted as he was really bugging me. He asserted that he was a decent boy and that he wanted to be friends with me. I politely said that my upbringing did not permit me to open up to strangers and requested him to stop following me lest I face its consequences. He stopped following me after that. After that I faced it again in Switzerland when an Indian there said something offensive, I feel that the urge to eve tease is only in the Indian psyche.

I decided way back that if I do give birth to a daughter, I'll tell her this asserts Simran Luthra, whose is hoping that her daughter Mahek be spared of such a sick experience, Be careful of boys on the road, do not to go out alone much and be nice and bold, be indifferent to the extent possible but don't take rot from them and if it goes out of control, thulp that guy.

How does Simran react to such incidents today She answers, I scream back and abuse the eve teaser, I know that they get scared if you are bold, if we get scared they will continue.

And the words of wisdom that Anu has for Devyani, her seven year old daughter are, Today she doesn't know about it but it is true that we have to face it in our day to day life. Its stupid to think she will never face it. Nothing but a complete re-evaluation of morality can stop eve teasing and this is not possible in a hurry. At the right time I'll teach her to be indifferent to it, but when it crosses the line I will insist that she should not shy away from it and I want her to face it boldly.

Anuradha Raghav Simhan is sure to be by her younger sister Uttara if she faces the crisis of eve teasing, she says protectively, She is aware of a lot of things. On a comparative scale I knew nothing when I was her age and I am glad that she is so much more mature. Before it was too late, I put her on her guard. It is sad that double standards exist, women are controlled and men let loose. I feel that parents should chat with their daughters and ask them to be bold when faced by such an issue and they should also advise their sons to not ever indulge in such cheap acts. It is the responsibility of parents to educate children about these aspects of life and build them to be better humans.

As Anila Anand states, It is true that the models who wear whatever they want and sport an I care two hoots attitude are seldom approached by eve teasers. They are sensitive to attacks no doubt but their bold mannerisms are a put off, the cowardly eve teaser will dare not take on them for risk of being cut down to size.

Many an actresses concur that the film world is so much safer, this is because they are comfortable on the sets, the co-stars are fun people to be with and are used to being professional. They also do agree that there are certain comments floating behind ones back but it all also depends on how they conduct themselves in the unit that matters.

Contrary to public opinion all guys do not take vicarious pleasure in watching woman be mauled by strangers. Shahid, a guy from a cultured family with two sisters would react thus, If I see a girl being harassed by a guy or guys Ill pretend to be someone she knows and take her to safety.

Jaspreeth Luthra, a married man who shares the thread of concern for woman says in words simple and serious about how he would tackle an eve teaser, I dont mind breaking his face!

The road to nowhere

Do the public show concern? ?I doubt it, Anila Anand says, I really doubt if they will stick their legs out for unknown women who are victims of eve teasing attacks.

Sindhu, an entrepreneur asserts, In Bangalore there is a visible lack of crowd support, I feel so safe in Bombay, there such acts do not go unnoticed. Here the eve teaser, even if caught is let off with a mild warning, no other consequence awaits him, no wonder they are bolder here.

I wish that awareness about eve teasing is created in every school to make all girls and guys aware about the harm caused by eve teasing. It will go a long way in transfixing a sense of right behavior in the generations to come. Aparna Rao, whose son Anchit is sure to be a role model for boys his age, has a point here.

Sneha adds, The public too have to be educated to rush to the aid of a girl who undergoes this and a more concrete step would be that of publishing photos of eve teasers in newspapers along with details of their unclean act. Stern follow-up by police would help a lot.

All the women who voiced their opinions for this article concurred on one thing, How I wish I was as confident as I am today, I would have handled the eve teaser sternly and avoided feeling violated.

In fact the advice that they have for all victims of eve teasing and all supporters of this cause is: Lash out against it in some way. Assert that this uncouth act will not be tolerated. Make sure that culture is shown on the roads, for the base few, teach them that they will not be let free if they disrespect women. People will support you if you show strength.

Prakruthi N. Banwasi

A man's incessant fight for dignity

I am of the firm belief that an eve teaser proves that he has not heeded the words of his parents who would have tried to instill a sense of culture and respect for women in him. This does not mean that a woman on the roads has to suffer torture when eve teased. Any member of the passing public can very well teach such deviant boys to be better behaved by first requesting them to desist from such acts and then taking the matter to its end if the eve teaser is rude and arrogant.

The author Prakruthi N. Banwasi has waged a war against the unhealthy practice of eve teasing. He has so far reprimanded thousands of eve teasers and has further taken 500 plus cases of eve teasers to police stations. The incidence of eve teasing has greatly reduced in Jayanagar, thanks to his unending efforts in curbing the same. Many men, including his brother Pruthvi have joined him to tackle eve teasers and give them their just desserts.

Prakruthi obtained a law degree from the National Law School and was a full time journalist. He runs a language institute opposite a NMKRV College, being a woman's college he first witnessed eve teasing in its enormity. Prakruthi embarks on a travelogue of how it all began and where he is heading, I was witness to many an instance of cheap behavior on the roads. It was not one instance but innumerable ones that triggered of my wish to do my bit to stop the occurrence of eve teasing.

To quote these famous words:

Life not lost by a mere death

But deaths multitude in disarray

Life lost minute by minute

And day by dragging day

Life is lost in many an uncaring way!

I know of a girl by name Sneha who was constantly harassed by eve teasers on the roads. The Road Romeos loitering around her college tortured her daily by mouthing obscenities, whizzing past on bikes, touching her and by coming near her house late at night and screaming lascivious things near her room window.

Her parents wondered why her of all the girls and restricted her further with every incident, gradually she stopped telling her parents about such incidents fearing more detriment to herself. Her college professors promised her protection within the college premises and left it at that. They all failed to fathom the gravity of the misdemeanor.

The travelogue of torture from the uncouth loiterers, her inability to confide in her parents and the fear of more such incidents scarring her psyche made her stop attending college. This fair girl of 18 of sound intelligence and decent upbringing belonging to a good family who respected education chucked away her entire career and developed a fear complex, one that opens up even today when she sees a few idle youngsters on the roads. She paid a heavy price for a few moments of cheap fun for ill-mannered louts!

It was then that I woke up to the gravity of this seemingly simple offence, since then I make it a point to walk up to any person who fails to show culture on the roads. Initially I request them to desist from causing annoyance to the women around. This friendly advice is taken in earnest by many an eve teaser as they all hail from good families and they stop their misbehavior, never to resort to this again and thankful that they were let go without having to face graver consequences. 

Yet there are instances when this friendly advice only goes to provoke the eve teaser to lash back by asking how it bothers me or by mouthing obscenities. That is when I call up the police and engage the eve teasers in a conversation till they arrive. The psyche of such audacious eve teasers is such that a stern warning from the police is the only way to set them straight and ensure that they never ever tease a girl for the rest of their lives. They should be made aware that there are enough and more decent folk who will react strongly if a woman screams for help when accosted by eve teasers.

I am happy that the instances of eve teasing, particular in Jayanagar Complex and near a few colleges here have diminished to a great extent. This only proves that concentrated efforts can take away the menace of eve teasing slowly. This can also be erased completely if the media takes up this fight and educates the public on how to tackle this social evil.

I agree that every one has a pile of work to attend to, but they have to spare a few moments to take note of these aberrations in society and reprimand the eve teasers sternly, this collective public behavior will go a long way in curbing the menace of eve teasing.

The only way an eve teaser can be caught is if passers by who witness him indulging in such an act react. One cannot wait for the police to be on the prowl at every street corner all the time awaiting acts of eve teasing, the sad fact is that not many eve teasers are bought to book. The police see through the seemingly innocent pleas of an eve teaser and take stern action against these shameless offenders, but that is only when the matter comes to their notice or eve teasers are brought to them by public action.

Every person caught eve teasing should be dealt with in all sternness and there should not be any lenience for first time offenders. The best way to deter stubborn eve teasers who defy and question authority is to produce them before their family and unmask their true instincts. The sense of shame will ensure that they never resort to such a thing again and further this will serve as a severe warning for others who even think of indulging in it.

This book has attempted to educate women to understand the truth behind eve teasing comprehensively so that they are better equipped with reactions instead of being stunned when they are eve teased. This book also seeks to initiate a drive in mature minds against this wide-spread menace. The future is waiting to be made better; all we have to do is to refuse to shut our eyes when we stand witness to an incident of eve teasing.

 

 

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