The world isn’t a safe place anymore. And if you are a girl then God be with you! The evil of Eve-teasing is so prevalent that it has made life hell for women, if you are a woman this will reach you eventually in some stage of your life.
Eve teasing is referred to sexual harassment of women in public places such as street streets, public transportation, parks, cinema halls etc. The acts include making passes or unwelcome sexual jokes, obscene gestures, winking, whistling, staring, stalking and includes physical assaults like pinching, fondling and rubbing against women in public places (you know what I’m talking about). It is basically an attitude, a mindset, a set of behavior that is construed as an insult and an act of humiliation of the female sex.
The main problem that women face when encountered with incidents of eve-teasing is the feeling of helplessness. They are unable to decide what they should do in such a situation. They stand humiliated and getting harassed while the culprit walks away free with pride of some kind of achievement.
Most of the cases of eve teasing go unreported because the fear of future repercussions looms large and at times retaliation provokes the culprits even more and has resulted into more serious offence like acid-throwing, murder etc. The other problem that persists is that our laws on eve teasing are very vague and very less stringent in proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. The law doesn’t bring out the actual seriousness that should be given on acts of eve-teasing. There is a very popular saying, which goes “Nature has given women so much power that the Law has given them very little. ”
The law doesn’t even define eve-teasing in proper terms. So how do we expect to punish culprits and give justice to the victim’s when the very term isn’t even defined? We do have some laws but they just seem for namesake and are toothless.
1. Section 298 (A) and (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sentences a man found guilty of making a girl or woman the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation to a maximum jail sentence of three months. Section 292 of the IPC also clearly spells out that showing pornographic or obscene pictures, books or slips to a woman or girl draws a fine of Rs. 2000 with two years of rigorous imprisonment for the first offender.
2. For repeated offence there is a fine of Rs.5000 with five years imprisonment imposed. Under Section 509 of the IPC, obscene gestures, indecent body language and acidic comments directed at any woman or girl or exhibits any such object or intrudes upon the privacy of woman carries a penalty of simple imprisonment for one year or a fine or both.
3. Under Section 354 , Whoever assaults or uses criminal force on any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both.
We live in a time where the eve teasers roam about in multi million cars, use high-tech gadgets and stab people in the public who resist eve-teasing (Yes its true. Read Keenan case for details) and the fine amount still remains Rs 2000-Rs 5000 with the jail term being 3 months, how hopelessly impractical is that?
We are so busy deciding laws which take control of our personal lives (Sec 399) that we don’t have time to think about problems as serious as Eve teasing which poses danger on each and every women stepping out of the house. There is a serious need to revamp the law on eve teasing beginning with actually defining it.
We can go on discussing the laws and the flaws, giving opinions, holding candle light marches, forming NGO’s but the question remains is anyone listening? Does it matter to the high and mighty that our women live without the protection of black commando’s and are subject to harsh reality of the situation?
Is anyone bothered that when a daughter goes out of the house for tuition or dance classes, her parents don’t get relief till she is back home safe and sound without being harassed, when a women goes out to work and is working late shift the only thought that goes on in her mind is how to reach home safely. We have failed so miserably to protect our women and yet we sit and formulate laws to “protect” our country. Irony!