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Eve Teasing In India

A woman is not a born woman, she is made a one- Simon de Beauvioin

Eve Teasing - The Concept

People say ‘ women belong to the weaker sections of the community’. Hence men dominate women and some times men exploit women for their own pleasure. Women face numerous of types of harassment. Among the harassments, sexual harassment is common in many parts of the world. Harassment in public places, by known and unknown persons, which affect women, is called eve teasing in India.

Eve teasing literally means annoying or irritating women. It is referred to as an act of harassing women playfully or maliciously, physically or pshycholgically to make fun, irritate, provoke, annoy, embarrass through comments, remarks, gestures, jokes, physical contact and taunts. it is a unique and euphemistic expression for south Asia, especially in India. It is not used in Britain or in European countries.

In the case of Rupan Bajaj & Another vs. KPS gill [i]the supreme court has explained the  meaning of ‘modesty’ in relation to women. More and more girl students, women etc. go to educational institutions, work places etc. and their protection is of extreme importance to a civilized and cultured society. The experiences of women and girl children in over-crowded buses, metros, trains etc. are horrendous and a painful ordeal.

Today women take a leadership role almost in all sectors, but eve teasing is still a problem in the society. women are affected  physically, psychologically and socially. They feel disgraced and they prefer to forget the incident. Those who are affected by eve teasing, never bother to question the man, or oppose the act they take a submissive and tolerant role because they think it will spoil their name further. It is interesting to note that some men tease not only women but also men.

Eve teasing in India- some facts and figures

  • According to the report of NCRB 2019[ii] (National Crime Record Bureau)
     A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 (3,78,236 cases). Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (30.9), followed by ‘assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (21.8%), ‘kidnapping & abduction of women’ (17.9%) and ‘rape’ (7.9%). The crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8 in 2018, says the NCRB report.
     
  • Indian Penal Code deals eve-teasing cases through its sections 354 and 509 which show an increase of 13.05 percent in assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty; and 18.9 percent decrease in incidents of Insulting modesty of woman, respectively, from the year 2015 to 2016.
     
  • An increasingly large number of college going women taking public transportation in Delhi have resorted to carrying pins, pen knives , and even daggers as a deterrent. Others have taken self defence classes.
     
  • A recent survey revealed that approximately 90 percent of college women in New Delhi have experienced sexual harassment in some shape or form. Yet , it is estimated that only about 1 in 10000 eve teasing occurrences are reported to the police.
     
  • 98 percent of the women have stated that sexual harassment on roads has affected their personal or academic development in one way or the other.
These facts may appear untrue and horrifying but they clearly show the plight of women in India. The condition is deteriorating everyday.

The psychology behind Eve teasing

Many psychologist believe that sex, love and fun is not the only motive that men indulge in this behaviour. Eve teasing is closely related to the patriarchal mindset of the Indian male. Men are raised to believe that they are more powerful physically and emotionally than women. They feel that they are doing nothing wrong just having some fun.

It is also considered a s a growing social problem. This is due to various social changes like urbanization, influence of western culture, modernization, and changes in status of women’s role, women’s liberation, and changes due to democracy. Eve teasing is felt by the society at the macro level as a social deviance and at individual micro level as a behaviour problem.

In India, eve teasing affects every woman who dares to come out of her home, in some form or the other. Every woman has a private space. Any person entering her private space causes trouble to her or injures her. It is noticed in all places like Beaches, roads, cinema halls, buses and in Educational institutions.it is a manifestation of patriarchal masculinity. Gender segregation and attitude of boys are the cause of this  teasing behaviour.

Eve teasing is not a problem of the affected victim alone. It is a problem of parents, spouses,  and close relatives of the victim. Holi is an important festival in India. As a part of the celebration, people play by throwing colors on others. But using this opportunity women are teased or harassed. This shows that eve teasing may happen at any place any time and in any situation.

Teachers of psychology and social scientists believe eve teasing to be a result of the frustrations suffered by a majority of youth. Disappointed by the unbecoming attitude of teachers and indifferent parents , they yearn for an outlet to vent their aggression and depression .Besides , many who do not inherit good values tend to indulge in acts of sexual harassment.
Eve teasing can be seen as a rite of passage for boys on their way to becoming men. Considering that sex is not the only motive , it would be reasonable to conclude that the psychodynamics of eve teasing are closely linked to the issue of masculinity and the masculine agenda.

It may appear paradoxical that in a country like India where the mother is generally deified, the growing male child does not learn to respect the members of his mother's gender. But it is because of this deification that the boy finds it easy to slip into the patriarchal mode , for he does not relate to his mother as a woman, but as a helpless and martyred dependent who needs to be pitied and cared for.
 
The vocal emergence of feminism has also pushed the contemporary male a little on the back foot , not only the women are threatening to encroach on his male dominion, but also because he does not have any idea about how he can counter encroach on hers. So he moves squarely into the adversarial position, something he is instinctively comfortable with and , during adolescence, focuses not just on how he can express himself sexually, but also on how he can claim his patriarchal right.

As part of his evolution into the patriarchal role , an arena is required in which his valour can be expressed. Organized sport and cultural activities are examples of these , but require some talent and application. Whereas standing with a group of peers at a bus stop or in a Cineplex, passing lewd remarks,gesticulating lasciviously and generally behaving obnoxiously requires mere numbers, and when the hapless girl is in no position to defend herself despite visible evidence of distress,domination gets established.
 
SI.No Forms of Teasing Percentage
1 Singing songs 64.9
2 Stare 53.5
3 Commenting 48.5
4 Blocking the way 40.0
5 Touching 36.3
6 Showing signs 35.6
7 Brushing 28.4
8 Use of Nick name 22.1
9 Beckoning 17.9
10 Patting the back 16.9
11 Patting the bottom 15.9
12 Proposal of marriage 13.2
13 Describing vulgarly 12.2
14 Using bad words 12.2
15 Threatening 11.4
16 Pinching 10.2
17 Gentle patting 10.2
18 Pulling hand 8.2
19 Snatching 7.7
20 Throwing stones 6.7
21 Throwing things 5.5
22 Snatching bags 5.2
23 Spraying water 4.5
24 Pulling the dress 3.7
25 Pulling hair 7.0
26 Beating 3.7
27 Causing injury 2.5
28 Touching with stick 2.6

Legal aspects of Eve Teasing - whether it’s a criminal wrong or civil wrong?

Eve teasing is a civil wrong. The perpetrator causes injury to the plaintiff mentally as well as physically. It is an encroachment on the Women’s Right to Privacy and her dignity. Though there are certain provisions in the Indian Penal Code, which describes and define eve teasing.

Section 294 [iii]of IPC (Indian Penal Code) says whoever causes annoyance of other, or does any obscene act in any public place or sings recites or utters any obscene song ballad or words in or near any public place shall be punished with imprisonment of whether description for a term which may be extended to three months or with fine or both.

Section 354 [iv] of IPC says whoever assaults or uses criminal forces to any women, intending to outage or knowing to be likely that he will thereby outrage her modesty shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or  with both.

Section 509 [v] of IPC says whoever intends to insult the modesty of any woman, utters any words, any sounds or gesture, or exhibits object intending that such gesture or subject shall be seen by such woman or intrudes upon the privacy of such shall pe punished with simple imprisonment for a term which any extend to one year or with fine or with both.

There are certain provisions for the preventions of Sexual Assault cases; ironically, the term eve teasing is not mentioned anywhere in the Indian Penal Code; as Eve teasing is an attitude, mindset, and a particular set of behaviour.

The honourable Apex court in the case of Deputy Inspector General of Police & Anr. vs. S. Samuthiram [vi] stated that Eve-Teasing is a euphemism, a conduct which attracts penal action but it is seen, only in one State, a Statute has been enacted, that is State of Tamil Nadu to contain the same, the consequence of which may at times drastic. Eve-teasing led to the death of a woman in the year 1998 in the State of Tamil Nadu which led the Government bringing an ordinance, namely, the Tami Nadu Prohibition of Eve-Teasing Ordinance, 1998, which later became an Act, namely, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Eve-Teasing Act, 1998 [for short ‘the Eve-Teasing Act’].

The Government are of the view that eve-teasing is a menace to society as a whole and has to be eradicated. With this in view, the Government decided to prohibit eve-teasing in the State of Tamil Nadu. Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Eve-teasing Ordinance, 1998 (Tamil Nadu Ordinance No. 4 of 1998), the objective of this legislative piece is to prohibit eve- teasing in any place in the state of Tamil Nadu.

In vishaka vs state of Rajasthan [vii], the supreme court made guidelines for sexual harassment which  includes such unwelcome sexually determined behaviour (whether directly or by implication)  such as - physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 [viii] brought changes to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by making sexual harassment an expressed offence under Section 354A. Under this section, the offender will be punishable with imprisonment of 3 years and fine or both. offences like disrobing a woman without her consent, stalking or any other type of sexual offence by a person are introduced by this Act.

Section 354 D [ix] States:
Whoever commits the offence of stalking shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Sexual harassment like eve- teasing of women amounts to violation of rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 and 21 as well.

Conclusion
Eve teasing is a wrong against the honour ,dignity and self respect of a woman. It hurts her immensely. It should be treated as an independent offence. We need strict rules and regulations to control it. There is a strong need for combating this fast growing problem. eve-teasing might sound less harmful crime but it can turn into a grievous one if not stopped at an early stage. In a country like India where women are worshipped at par with the Gods, this kind of behaviour against women is unjust, unfair and Hippocratic. We should be respectful to women. Then only we would be on the lines of happiness, prosperity and success. "Yatra Naryantu Pujyante Tatra Ramyate Devtaa."

End-Notes:
  1. Rupan Bajaj & Another vs. KPS gill
  2. Report of NCRB 2019
  3. Section 294
  4. Section 354
  5. Section 509
  6. Deputy Inspector General of Police & Anr. vs. S. Samuthiram
  7. vishaka vs state of Rajasthan
  8. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013
  9. Section 354 D

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Hemlata Singh - Law Student at University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIPU
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: JU34232432729-1-0621

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