“Eve teasing” in India, Part 2

By guest author Darshini Shah

According to the “Indian Journal of Criminal and Criminalistics,” eve teasing can be identified in five areas: verbal, physical, psychological, sexual, and harassment through objects (Warrier, 2013).

Women's business, Pushkar, India

Women’s business, Pushkar, India. Photo by russavia, used under CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

While India does not have a uniform law for eve teasing, there are Indian Penal Codes that serve as a legal remedy. However, these transgressions are bailable; the fines often an insignificant amount; and the prohibitions are often not enforced (Pandey, 2011).

In one study of eve teasing in undergraduate students, Ghosh (2011) found that psycho-social factors such as internalized beliefs in patriarchy, poor socialization, the media, and lack of legal understanding contribute to sexual harassment.

Psychologists also note that many men are sexually repressed and invoke a range of power dynamics (e.g., emotional, psychological, and physical) to suppress assertiveness in women (Pandey, 2011).

One of the most tragic incidences of eve teasing occurred in 2012, when a female student was gang-raped on a public bus in Delhi, India, and eventually died (Wolf, 2013). While there are many cases that go unreported and under-reported, this case provoked a public outcry, protest, and discourse on women’s safety, rights, agency, violence, patriarchy, systemic and community awareness, political and social will, and equality.

A national and global consciousness awakened, and at present, certain solutions have been actualized, such:

  • A hotline to call-in for a transgression
  • Sensitization of police and law enforcement
  • Reforming laws
  • Educating and raising awareness in public spaces, such as an educational, community, and commercial (e.g., malls and theaters) settings (The Times of India, 2013).

A short film by Indian film director Anurag Kashyap addresses this social issue, particularly gender sensitization and equality (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/that-day-after-everyday-watch-anurag-kashyaps-short-film-on-sexual-harassment-of-women/431508-8-66.html ).

 Darshini Shah is a researcher and a yoga instructor who divides her time between India and the United States.

References

Ghosh, D.  (2011).  Eve teasing: Role of the patriarchal system of the society.  Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 37, p. 100-107.

New helpline to complain about eve-teasing, molestation. (2013, January 2).  The Times of India.  Retrieved from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-02/jaipur/36110519_1_helpline-collectorate-register-complaints

That day after everyday: Watch anurag kashyap’s short film on sexual harassment of women. (2013, October 31). IBNLive.com. Retrieved from http://ibnlive.in.com/news/that-day-after-everyday-watch-anurag-kashyaps-short-film-on-sexual-harassment-of-women/431508-8-66.html

Warrier, V.S. (2013, October 4).   Eve teasing: A perennial problem in today’s society. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/aware/eve-teasing-a-perennial-problem-in-todays-society/168773969993901

Wolf, N.  (2013, January 3).  Ending India’s rape culture.  Aljazeera.  Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/20131393027992335.html

Women rally against ‘eve teasing’ in south asia. (2011, March 1).  Dawn. Retrieved from http://beta.dawn.com/news/609882/women-rally-against-eve-teasing-in-south-asia

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8 Responses to “Eve teasing” in India, Part 2

  1. Anna Tam says:

    I definitely think we should do more to prevent problems such as “eve teasing” from occurring in India. However, I also think this is an epidemic that occurs around the world. A reason for maltreatment against women is poverty, which exists in the global sphere. Related to eve teasing is the fact that very often, females are frequently abused by their partners. I think many people, especially the perpetrators of these injustices, fail to realize that the victims of any type of violence must deal with many psychological effects, such as PTSD (Hines & Malley-Morrison, chap 5, p. 139, 2013), in addition to their physical injuries (Hines & Malley-Morrison, chap. 5, p. 137, 2013). This type of violence is extremely damaging to the psyches of these victims and to their families and is therefore, not conducive to promoting a peaceful world.
    While preventing violence against women may be a difficult task, I don’t believe it’s impossible. And while programs that are already in place around the world are helpful, we must consider the potential causes of this problem that affects so many women worldwide. There are many macrosystem factors that transcend borders, cultures, and religions: poverty and related issues, low education, traditional beliefs, approval of violence in relationships, need for power, and stress (Hines & Malley-Morrison, chap 5, p. 130-133, 2013). In a way, these macrosystem factors seem very much interrelated to me because the poverty and low economic attainment for people who may be unemployed may be a result of low educational attainment, which in turn leads to traditional beliefs (especially if these people are isolated and are not as aware of cultural beliefs different from their own). This ultimately leads to stress, the need for power to compensate for the lack of control in other areas of their lives (Hines & Mally-Morrison, chap. 5, p. 132, 2013), which leads to the tolerance or support of violence against their partners. This violence may occur more often in females than males because males who feel as though the female in their relationships have greater control may use violence to try to take that control away from her.
    To combat these issues, perhaps we should target the predictors of violence against females to create prevention programs. While I agree that education of perpetrators of the definitions and effects of maltreatment against females is an excellent start, I also think that education should be at the forefront of the campaign against such violence. To improve this program and to continue raising awareness about such events we should provide educational resources in places where people can see them before the violence can occur, including putting informational brochures on doorknobs of homes. While this is an unconventional method, I think this is one way to educate the perpetrator, who may not see his actions as abusive, while also educating the victim, who may feel trapped in the situation.

  2. Liz Dorso says:

    This subject of “eve teasing” is another instance where there is a prevalent form of abuse that I was completely unaware of. Throughout this course I realized just how little I really knew about abuse and just how common it is. This is a subject I discussed a lot in class, especially being that I did my discussion group presentation on it, but every time I come across something like this I’m reminded of the importance of raising awareness. I can’t help but think that most people don’t know the extent of child abuse, or violence against women, etc., unless they’ve been educated in a class such as this one. In class we talked about prevention programs and in regards to the general public I think primary prevention programs are a great start. Hines and Malley-Morrison says these programs primarily consist of “public service announcements on television and radio, and news coverage of the most egregious cases of child abuse” (H&MM pg. 55). Although this seems a little harsh it can be a real eye opener for those who aren’t aware of how prevalent abuse cases are. When these programs started “between 1975 and 1985…public recognition of child maltreatment as a public safety issue increased from 10% to 90%” (H&MM pg. 55). A harsh reality yes, but an 80% increase and a decline in awareness is definitely worth installing a primary prevention program.
    A similar program could be beneficial to reducing violence geared at women, such as the “eve teasing” in India. It may be something that those within the Indian culture are aware of, but maybe they also don’t know the extent to which this violence is being perpetrated. Public service announcements and efforts to educate the general public could go a long way to reducing the frequency of these violent acts. In the first blog post on “eve teasing”, the post had said that boys in India found the practice to be un-offensive and even harmless. This could be that they don’t know or understand the negative after effects that sexual harassment has on a person. Hines and Malley-Morrison discusses the negative outcomes that can occur when a child is sexually abused and assuming that some of the girls being assaulted are not yet of an age where they would be considered an adult, they may have similar negative outcomes. Sexual abuse can do serious damage to a child, or adult’s mental health, but in children can “affect a child’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal health” (H&MM pg.75). Even beyond that, children that experience sexual abuse “have lower self- esteem, suffer more often from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and engage in a range of sexual behaviors that are developmentally inappropriate (H&MM pg. 75). These are just some of the many negative outcomes that can be seen across victims of sexual abuse.
    If this kind of information is made more available to the general public of India, and to advocates for human rights, we may see at least a small decrease in the prevalence of sexual abuse against women in this area. One thing that I think may be particularly helpful in eliminating this behavior is to investigate the men, or boys, who are committing these acts. Above is a reference to the book that says that victims of sexual abuse tend to engage in sexual behaviors that are developmentally inappropriate. It could be possible that not only are boys developing these behaviors from watching others, but maybe they themselves have experienced abuse and are carrying out only what they know that has been done to them. I think there is a lot of room for improvement in this area but that starting with the most basic form of awareness and investigation is a step in the right direction.

  3. Jay says:

    Governments need to begin to focus on the macrosystem level of prevention so that the state that has been allowing (even unknowingly promoting) violence will be changed from the top down. This includes “promoting cognitive-effective change, particularly for combating pervasive racist, sexist, and patriarchal values that increase the risk in the more vulnerable members of [society]” (MM&H, 236). It may seem outrageous that countries like India still need such a cognitive reform when it comes to violence, but let’s not forget that America has not been that far ahead in regards to similar violent crimes. It was not until the 1970s that wife battering even came to light in America, and marital rape remained legal in some states until 1993 (MM&H, 236). America has made strides in protecting human rights we are now seeing in other countries, but is this enough? The effectiveness of exosystem efforts such as shelters and hotlines has remained questionable (MM&H, 239). We need wider international accountability for protecting the basic human rights of our citizens, but propositions which create international accountability struggle to gain widespread acceptance (the International Violence Against Women Act has remained unsigned by the United States and other nations). Tackling this issue on an international level may be further complicated by various cultural perspectives, as evident by more feminist programs in American shelters being shown to alienate women of ethnic minorities (MM&H, 241). However, we need to continue to hold world leaders accountable for the safety and rights of their people, regardless of age, gender, or race; and proposals like the International Violence Against Women Act may be a great place to start.

  4. Sunanda Sharma says:

    The short film that Ms. Shah posted is both powerful and sickening as it pushes the point that sexual abuse and harassment is, in two words, pathetic and cowardly. Hines and Malley-Morrison provide examples of potential predictors of IPV against women, but I believe many of them can be applied to general sexual harassment and assault against women. Power and stress are named as motivators for men to abuse their partners and while I agree that men who strive for power and who experience a great deal of stress may be more likely to abuse, I fear that people use that as a justification and an excuse to continue abusing their partners. Frankly speaking, in this modern world who doesn’t struggle with stress? Who isn’t trying to climb the ladder of success to become more powerful? We have discussed this improper release of stress once before, in the context of child maltreatment. Hines and Malley-Morrison have noted that these male partners who physically abuse their partner or children, feel more powerful by resorting to such archaic violence (p. 132).

    Ghosh (2011) found that not only do psychosocial factors such as patriarchy contribute to sexual harassment, but also they explain why women do not report incidents of harassment or assault. Patriarchal society sends the message to women that instead of reporting issues they should ignore it ever happened, put their heads down, and continue on with their lives. There is a preference to put the onus on women to protecting themselves, rather than telling men to stop their inappropriate behaviors. In India, there is far too much of a tendency to blame the victim, so it will take a great force to reverse this.

    The 1960’s women’s movement in America certainly brought change and programs specifically designed for women, but India (and many other oppressive countries) is still awaiting such a successful movement (Hines and Malley Morrison, p. 122).

  5. Darshini says:

    Hi All,
    Just to add to the discussion, I did not include this part in the piece, but think it’s critically important to point out that Dalit (socially constructed term for those of lower castes) women and girls, who are in the margins of Indian society, are some of the most vulnerable targets for sexual and gender violence. Power (e.g. economic, political, patriarchal, social, caste, class, etc.) wielded over them leads to a higher risk and rate of violence against them (http://www.countercurrents.org/stephen151013.htm ). Yet, media rarely cover their atrocities–perhaps a bias in Indian media.

    In response to Sunanda’s point on Indian women not reporting and from the Ghosh (2011) study, recent reports actually show a trend of many women being personally courageous to report an incident–and the catalyst being the public decry of the Delhi gang-rape incident in 2012 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24443124 ). However, the article concedes that the conviction rate is still abysmal.

    • kathiemm says:

      Thanks for the additional information, Darshini.

    • Sunanda Sharma says:

      Darshini,
      It’s very encouraging to hear that women have been standing up for themselves! What I meant was that in the past I’ve read countless stories about how women who tried to report the injustices that were done to them were encouraged by corrupt police officers, friends, family, etc. to stay silent. I believe some of the specific stories came from Punjab and Haryana; in some cases, the girls’ fathers or the girls themselves sadly committed suicide out of shame or frustration. Again though, it’s nice to hear that women are breaking their silence and standing up for themselves.

  6. Darshini says:

    Today is the one year passing of the women who died from that 2012 brutal gang rape in Delhi. I thought to share her parents’ views of their grief and strength through this one-year ordeal:

    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/a-year-later-family-of-delhi-gang-rape-victim-press-for-full-justice/?_r=0

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