“Social awareness and education play a pivotal role in reducing the rate of eve-teasing,” said feminist, social activist Sudha Arora.

Eve teasing and sexual assault have become a daily occurrence across India. It’s not just young girls being harassed, but even women over 30. Arora claimed that “on an average day there are 2-3 eve teasing, physical violence and physical abuses cases comes up in a given city.” No doubt many more go unreported.

Illiteracy, narrow mind, male dominant society, and lack of social awareness are the biggest reasons for the growing eve teasing rate. According to Arora, “It’s often seen that masses living in slum or those who belong to lower class are uneducated and they indulge more into cheap activities like eve teasing and sexually harassing girls, whereas the ones who are educated they indulge less in these activities. Likewise, women who walk alone are a greater risk of eve-teasing.

As in most cultures, the public often holds the victim responsible for the attack because of her character and dress, rather than the attacker for his moral flaws. Truthfully, it’s never her clothing to be held responsible; rather, it’s the attacker’s mentality. “Even a women under burqa is eve teased. Moreover, when a boy wears boxers and walks on the road, girl’s don’t react to it. Why, then, are boy’s affected by what girl’s are wearing?” Asked Arora.

Women, therefore, live under the impression that they should lead a quiet, conservative life, while men live freely as the cultural power gender. Such priviledge leaves women feeling weak and dominated.

Popular Bollywood music, its abusive language and vulgar dance, are also to blame for sexual assault. Songs like Chikni Chameli, Fevicol se, and Zandu Balmto name a few, portray women as weak, sexual objects, giving way to male dominance.

Encouraged by slight improvements, Aurora claimed, “Such activities can not be reduced overnight but measures need to be taken for creating social awareness and women’s empowerment in society. Education is the main weapon to change the mentality of masses… From a very early age parents should take the initiative to teach their children to respect and protect girls. Apart from this, every girl should learn martial arts, fight for themselves, and raise their voice against wrong. There should be strong unity between women; if a group of 4-5 boys are eve teasing girl then rest of the women and men unite together and reciprocate to the teasers.”

When asked how families should support victims, Arora said family members should be supportive, non-judgemental listeners who try to understand the victim’s mental state. Often times, well meaning family members “ignore the situation thinking it to be a smaller issue.” Some worry that taking actions against the crime will have a negative impact on their child’s mind, but “if right action is not taken at the right time, then such wrongdoings can give way to rape.”

Commenting on social awareness, Arora said, “Though eve teasing has not stopped completely, the workshops and education have helped in making both men and women open minded. Many men have even been seen “raising their voice for injustice against women and inspiring masses to become open minded and consider women as power section of society.”

Commenting on the role of NGOs, Arora said, “When a victim comes to us for help… we try to understand the condition of victim and  then we… approach a policeman, doctor, counselor or lawyer by help. Apart from this we focus on training the victim not to feel ashamed and weak of themselves, to become mentally, emotionally, and physically strong and to speak up for themselves. On monthly basis we conduct workshops, street plays for women empowerment and follow up with the victim on daily basis ”

She further added, “It is very important to keep yourself updated with technology as nowadays, many apps have come up through which you can send your current location to your family… and if you fall into certain trouble then app sends a signal to the viewer. Apart from this it is very important that every girl should carry pepper spray, [and know the] contact number of IPS for their defence.”

Photo by Jim Ankan Deka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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