Two or Three weeks ago, it was a pleasant cloudy day and around lunch time we friends decided to go out. When we reached at our spot, we saw a group of 5/6 young boys who were shouting, hooting and laughing hilariously. They had attention of everyone around and some people were especially standing there to see what transpired . This made me curious about what’s going on? But when I looked there, I felt a huge desolation. There was a young beggar girl of 14 or 15 years of age and one of those boys was holding her hand and taking her towards his friends, while his friends were shouting “Bring her here, Bring her here…” The girl was continuously trying to stop them but suddenly one of those guys hugged the girl and everyone started hooting and laughing more loudly while passing inappropriate remarks to the girl.
It has hurt me badly…. It has hurt me how boys were enjoying and how the girl was trying to get away from them, It has hurt me how everyone was standing just as a spectator, people of every age and background were around them but they were merely giving meaningful smiles to them. It has hurt me how everyone was passing comments on the girl instead of stopping those boys.
This is not the only incident that involves harassment of such nature. Around the globe, everyone encounter this kind of harassment on daily basis in some way or another. This form of harassment is termed as Public Harassment or Street harassment and in South Asian Communities it is commonly known as “Eve Teasing”. Eve teasing/Public Harassment refers to any act, comment or verbal and nonverbal gesture such as leers, following, physical touching; that is perpetrated by any stranger at public space such as markets, streets, or public transport etc. Unfortunately, no race, class, society, ethnicity, gender or age is safe from these everyday harassment incidents.
According to a survey of Stop Street Harassment (2008) around the globe 1 in 4 women by age 12 and 90% women by age 19 do experience pubic harassment/eve teasing. This rate is found to be further increasing day by day, as progressively more women and girls have started entering into practical world and educational sector. Various researchers, media campaigns and legal authorities are increasingly focusing on this social issue because similar alarming ratios of cases are observed in eastern as well as western societies. Researchers have identified that although people had started considering these instances as an innocuous part of their lives, eve teasing do have devastated impacts on victims. It involves both individual and group level impact such as negative emotional reactions, body dissatisfaction, self objectification, safety concerns, social avoidance, and various societal and economical implications. Major causes of the increasing rate of eve teasing involve societal and policy level constraints but family influences and lack of awareness or sensitivity towards other’s rights and feelings also appears to be a perpetuating factor for this issue.
By keeping this scenario in mind, I think this is the time that we should start reflecting and thinking about these aspects critically. What sort of our cultural or social roles is exacerbating these behaviors and what we could do at our individual level to cope up with this issue? How could we play our role to overcome this social concern? This is the time we should reflect upon ourselves, upon our own lacking, mistakes and our own faults. We should reflect what we are giving to our young generation who is going to make our future. What are we teaching to our young boys who have to lead this nation tomorrow? What are we doing with our bright and brilliant girls who will become future mothers of this nation? How could we expect an insecure and irresolute mother to raise a confident, bright and optimist generation? And the utmost, it’s time to think what are we doing on a societal level to our humanity, sensitivity or care for others? If we could stand as a bystander until the sufferer is not our loved one “What Does This Mean????”
What should we teach our Boys?
- We should not give this message that “boys don’t cry” rather we should teach them that boys don’t make other’s cry.
We should teach them
- To respect “Women” not the associated label or relationship with her (such as daughter, sister or mother).
- To be sensitive towards other’s rights and feelings.
- To recognize their boundaries and limits.
- To respect for one’s personal space whether it’s a girl or a boy.
What should we teach our girls?
We need to give this confidence to our girls that;
- Don’t blame yourself; you are not responsible for other’s behaviors/mistakes/misdeeds.
- Respect yourself; You deserve it.
- Raise your voice, being harassed does not mean you have to be ashamed of yourself.
- The most important thing a girl wears is her confidence and self respect.
- Stand for yourself; you don’t need to look towards others for your protection.
What should we learn as a society?
As evident from the given incident, we should bring some changes on societal level as well to deal with Public Harassment. As a group, we should learn:
- Not to “Trivialize” sexual harassment by calling it “Eve teasing”.
- To do something and to take some action. As Albert Einstein said, “the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” So it’s time to decide that we will not act as a viewer only, however we will fight against Public Harassment. –
- To Respect everyone equally despite their age, race, ethnicity or class.
- To remember that, “Everyone in the world worth being nice to, Because God never creates inferior human beings; each person deserves respect and dignity.” -Ben Carson