So the Delhi Besharmi Morcha has ended. It was
India’s version of the global reply to the taunt of a police officer in who said that women should stop dressing like sluts if they didn’t want to be eve teased. Toronto
Well, well, one MCP dares say that in Toronto and all women are up in arms. Here, we have everyone from authorities to strangers to elders in the family telling us the same thing; only they leave out the word ‘slut’. Probably why the Indian morcha left it out too.
We have guys cat calling and wolf whistling and worse day after day at us fully dressed women, and what do we do? We bow our heads in shame and just walk by in silence. Why? Because hum besharam nahin hain. We are not shameless. We are ashamed of ourselves. How could we have attracted those guys? Maybe we should change our route to college/work/school tomorrow. Maybe I should wear a longer kurta with my jeans. Maybe I should lower my eyes so that I cannot see beyond the tips of my toes.
Yes, we have to make all the changes. The guys can still sit on the wall and continue. No one’s going to push them off. The police? Oh give me a break. They have lots more serious cases to work on (read: distort facts/’lose’ evidence/harass witnesses).
During my college days, the inmates of the girls’ hostel had a curfew time of 6:00 p.m. and the guys…..well, they didn’t have a curfew. That obviously wasn’t enough for them. So, they got onto their terrace and started whistling and yelling out to the girls who were having a walk in the hostel gardens. So, authorities made our compound wall higher. Then we started hanging out on our terrace to enjoy the fresh air and watch the birds flying freely. But then it was closer to the guys’ terrace, a fact which was taken full advantage of by them. That resulted in a ban from frequenting the terrace for us. Always us. Never them.
We did protest, of course. We weren’t going to let it go without a fight. But everything fell on deaf ears. “It’s for your own protection” was the answer all the time. But what we actually wanted was justice. They were the perpetrators, why weren’t they taken to task? Even today, the injustice of that makes my blood boil.
Images Courtesy: ibnlive
Just shows how long a way the Indian public (man) has to go. I really doubt how much a walk like this will help to that end, but maybe someone somewhere in a position of power will sit up and take notice. If there is someone like that out there (who also reads my blog :-)), here are a few suggestions from me:
- Educate all children – girls and boys – right from a young age that you CANNOT pass lewd comments at passing girls/women. They should be told that eve teasing now comes under ‘Crime against Women’.
- IPC Section 298 (A) and (B) sentences an eve teaser for a maximum of 3 months.
- IPC Section 292 sentences someone who shows obscene material to women to two years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2000.
- IPC Section 509 sentences obscene body language to imprisonment of one year and/or a fine.
Learning a law in its entirety makes it more real to common people.
- Have plain clothes policemen around all school/college areas to pounce upon local ‘roadside romeos’ (hate that term).
- Ensure a government initiated supply of pepper spray to all girls over the age of 16 and educate them to use it on guys who harass them in any way.
- This is the most important: Change the attitude of the police. They have to give sexual harassment a very high priority, because the delay will only complicate matters and let the harasser walk away free. Also, a little more sensitivity on the part of the police in such matters would be helpful.
Have you got any more to add so that we can walk in peace anywhere (and not just in a slutwalk)? Please do!!