When will this term be retired for good? Banished forever? It is a silly, mild euphemism for what is, plainly, sexual harassment of women. And, thanks to Bollywood’s longstanding portrayal of heroes who chase their heroines till they capitulate (because, don’t you know, behind every woman’s loudly-declared no, there’s a shy, unequivocal yes), many men in this country consider “eve-teasing” as necessary foreplay.
But, women around India are stepping up. This story, of two sisters taking on three men who harassed them is inspiring. Despite the many onlookers and a bus driver and a bus conductor who passively watched on, as if in a movie theater. Apparently, some of these bystanders thought it wiser to tell the women to back off or they’d be raped or have acid thrown in their faces or, of course, be killed and disposed of. [On a related note, perhaps some of their reluctance is understandable, given how those who do step up against sexual harassment typically do not fare well, as happened with this brave Hyderabadi student. Understandable, though, not excusable.]
It took forty-eight hours for the police to round up these “3 Idiots”, whose parents had the nerve to ask the women to come to an amicable agreement as the men were gearing up for army careers and this kind of police record would ruin their chances. Oh. My. Goddess. Are these parents absolutely nuts or what? That they should even consider sending these specimens to protect the country and uphold her democratic ideals. They should, in all fairness, be locked up along with their offspring.
Around the same time as the above story started making the news, another story also started the rounds: about how an actress was slapped in a public venue by a man for wearing skimpy clothes. This kind of “moral policing” is, apparently, acceptable when it comes to women. Yet, in the above incident, not a single man or woman stepped up to provide a “moral policing” lesson to those criminals above. And, of course, “moral policing” is another stupid term for what happened here: more sexual harassment, albeit of a tad different flavor. Wah re wah, India.
In other recent news, after months of investigation, the CBI says that the two Badaun girls died of suicide, not rape and murder. Given all the rather well-known facts of the case, this is another case of fucked-up-ness in the state of law and order of this country. Yet, what can we say of an institution whose Chief falls asleep during important speeches?
PS To end on a somewhat positive note, this woman chased and caught a thief; more power to her. And, those two sisters above are going to be rewarded too.
UPDATE January 2, 2015: In the days following the first media reports on the Rohtak sisters, there has been a fair bit of controversy and noise about whether their various physical retaliations to “eve-teasing” were staged and recorded with premeditation. Yes, it would be rather dishonest of them if this were true. But, the fact that they have the courage to tackle this incessant social problem should carry more weight. How many of us have simply let lecherous / rude men off the hook on a regular basis because we’re wired to avoid conflict and to accept mistreatment for no reason other than our gender as routine? So, I still say: more power to women like the Rohtak sisters and may they continue to inspire the rest of us.