‘Eve teasing, the fight has to begin from home’
New Delhi : Despite stricter laws and stiff punishment in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, incidents of eve-teasing and sexual harassment of women witness a steady rise, says a book putting the blame on the patriarchal society, commodification of women and lack of awareness about the law.
Incidents of sexual harassment are spreading like an epidemic, says Deepa Awasthi, a freelance researcher and a social activist who has edited the book “Eve Teasing, a Social Epidemic”, published by Kalpaz Publications. The book is a collection of research work by scholars, most of them women.
The problem of eve teasing should not be trivialised and reduced to a law-and-order problem as it can often escalate into violent crime like rape and murder, she says, adding it is a problem of patriarchal attitude.
“This attitude needs to be countered at the very beginning and the fight against eve teasing in public spaces should begin in private spaces of home by instilling values of equality in both men and women,” says Parvin Sultana, a professor of political science in Assam.
“From childhood, sons and daughters are brought up by completely different sets of rules. Women are made to feel vulnerable and the weaker sex. Eve teasing can be perceived as an outgrowth of the gender biased socialisation process and a mechanism by which men assert power and dominance over women,” she says.
Although eve-teasing in rampant in India, only one in 10,000 cases is reported by victims. Even the conviction rate is dismally low, Sultana says.
Moreover, eve teasing is often viewed as normal, romantic and moderate crime unlike rape or murder even by the authorities despite the fact that it violates a women’s basic right to live with dignity, she argues.
Used to suggest violence against women, the term ‘eve teasing’ itself is faulty because ‘eve’ represents temptress and the term actually signifies that eves tempt or provoke males for vulgar comments and behavior, says Mehnaz Nazmi, a professor of political science.
One of the first lessons most adolescent girls are administered are always to dodge, not essentially fight the predatory male gaze, she says.