Need for attitudinal
change – Dr. Ali Khwaja
Dr. Ali Khwaja
underlines the fact that prevention is better than cure even in the
widespread social disease of eve teasing.
Eve teasing is not as
old as Eve (because there was no other man around at that time except her
beloved Adam), but it has certainly existed down the centuries. Most
civilized societies have taken cognizance of it and have tried to curtail
it in different ways. Unfortunately the focus is more on the ways
and means of taking action against it, punishing the offenders or
informing girls as to how to defend themselves. Very little attention has
been given to going into the root cause of eve teasing and what can be
done to bring about a transformation in society so that the practice and
incidents are prevented.
It is absolutely clear
that the victim is in no way responsible for the incidence of eve teasing.
It does not depend on how the girl looks, what she wears, or where she
goes. In fact, it is often the quieter, more subdued and simpler girls who
get attacked because the culprit is more confident of handling and cowing
down such girls rather than the assertive and mod ones, who may retaliate
So, it is obvious that
the change has to be brought in the thinking pattern of the men and boys
who succumb to the temptation of indulging in such behavior. If the
thinking pattern is changed, incidences will reduce by
This problem starts with
the way boys are indoctrinated to develop an attitude towards girls. At a
very early age, they are taught things like ‘Don’t cry like a girl’, or
‘You should not go near girls.’ To the young adolescent mind, a girl is an
object of weakness and vulnerability and at the same time, due to his
hormones playing up, an object of fascination that is forbidden to
Not allowing boys to get
a greater understanding of the female gender, lack of sex education and
harsh punishments for harmless pranks develop in many adolescent boys a
feeling of suppressed anger and resentment towards girls. Compounded to
that is the mistaken version that every boy has to be a ‘macho’ man and a
girl is a conquest to prove his manhood. When such boys do not get
attention from girls, they develop the tendency to tease them; initially
from a distance, and then as they grow bolder, getting closer and closer
If this was only an
adolescent passing phase, it would not be a serious societal
concern. As we are well aware, eve teasing is indulged in by men who
are well past their adolescence, sometimes even by doddering old men.
Hence we need to understand that the ‘programming’ of the mind that takes
place in early years, continues to affect behavior for a
Here are some practical
tips to influence the mindset of potential eve teasers by giving the right
inputs to growing young men and bringing about an attitudinal change in
- Media should stop
glorifying ‘macho’ men who make a public display of affection towards
- Boys and girls in
families should be treated equally and boys should be taught that their
sisters have the same rights as they do.
- Girls should be
allowed to participate in outdoor games more freely, thus dispelling the
myth that they are the ‘weaker sex.’
- School curriculum
should include gender related studies that highlight the achievements of
women and their capabilities.
- Sex education should
include understanding the emotions, needs and behavior of the opposite
- The concept of ‘boys
will be boys’ should be curbed right at the beginning. Small pranks
against girls (or even in general) that are tolerated since they appear
to be harmless lay the seeds for much more unacceptable behavior in
- Bystanders should not
remain mute witnesses whenever any incident of eve-teasing takes place,
because such inactivity not only encourages the abuser but also gives
wrong signals to prospective abusers.
- ‘Gentlemanly’ behavior
should be encouraged and rewarded, particularly among adolescent boys
and they should be projected as role models.
- Family bonds should be
strengthened since adolescent boys have a tendency to move away from the
ladies in their house and interact only with their peers, thus being
deprived of female interactions and the opportunity to learn to treat
women with due respect.
- Consumption of liquor
at an early age should be strongly frowned upon. Unfortunately the pub
culture has made intoxication fashionable and drunkenness leads to many
incidents of misbehavior with women.
- Men misbehaving with
their own wives are unfortunately ignored by outsiders as it is
considered to be their ‘internal’ matter. Men who get into the habit of
dominating and being aggressive with their wives feel that they can
misbehave with other women too.
should be taught at an early age that they are in no way inferior to
boys. While girls of today are getting as good an education as their
brothers, they are not being taught life-skills and often end up with low
self-esteem that prevents them from even protesting or defending
themselves and eve teasers have a free hand.