Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Eve Teasing

Mooi and I welcomed in 2007 amidst thousands of men on Brigade Road in downtown Bangalore, India.

The scene seemed odd to us. Odd because women were told to be off the streets by 11pm as a safety precaution.

It seems that the authorities in Bangalore were worried that mobs of over-stoked young men would be reason enough to ban women from celebrating on the streets.

Somewhere in between our amusement at the antics of young men stunting their 100cc motorcycles and a cop trying to scare me, I remembered reading about the phenomenon of Eve Teasing (sexual harassment/assault).

I tried to relay what I read to Mooi. He just looked at me with his usual disconnected demeanour and asked me:"Why the f*ck they call sexual harassment Eve Teasing?" and "Who is the hell is Eve anyway?"

I did not know the answer to the first question. Still don't.

But I do know that Eve is any woman in India. And the teasing part is not just an 'innocent' patriachal frustration vented in the direction of women, even young girls.

A throng of 'Eve Teasers' in Mumbai marked the 2007 new year celebration by assaulting a young Indian women in full view of thousands of people at the famous Gateway of India.

Cameras captured the scene as hoards of young men grabbed her and pulled items of clothing from her body. Her male friend/companion tried to shield her but to no avail.

That crime, captured on film and witnessed by scores of people, went unprosecuted because the police were unable to find the victim.

This new year celebration found a repeat of the sexual assault as 70 or so men in the Jahu area in a dehumanizing incident that continued for 20 minutes.

Women are very concerned about their safety in Mumbai, and elsewhere in India. And rightly so.

I have witnessed 'Eve Teasers' up close in my travels in India. A few incidents came while I was in the company of a woman from Italy on the streets of Jodphur.

I won't repeat the vile things that were said to her. I was horrified and stunned to say the least.

Last week a young woman from Australia stopped by for a visit at number 11 and we got to talking about India and my 7 month journey through that land of marvels.

She asked me if I thought it would be safe for a woman to travel alone in India and I hesitated before answering.

I told her that I thought it was safe in general BUT that Eve Teasing is a problem.

Now don't get me wrong here broer, I am not saying that women are not harrassed on the streets of New York, Paris, Tokyo, or Joburg. They are.

But still, something drastic needs to be done about Eve Teasing. The Hindu calls it a "rampant social evil."

You can read more on the phenomenon at Blank Noise Project..


Dione said...

Sounds like an exciting and meaningful way to bring in the new year! I'm glad you were able to enjoy the experience of a life time. Thank you for sharing with us.


Dade said...

Reading this post, Ridwan, I am reminded of the witch burnings in the early Puritan settlements in Salem, Massachusetts.

I imagine that some sexually repressed psychopath, all high and righteous in his "love" for God, was driven to the point of madness when a pretty girl smiled at him. His lust tormented him endlessly, in spite of all his weird prayer and self-flagellation and eventually he came to the conclusion that the pretty girl that smiled at him was a witch who had cursed him.

From that point, it was just a matter of getting the firewood together.


Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Dione. I enjoyed Bangalore but was happy to move on to Goa via Mangalore just two days later.

Best wishes.

Ridwan said...

Dade I think you picked up on some of what was evident, inclusive of those who blame women for being provocative in dress, etc.

Lonely Planet India tell foreign women to wear a ring on their marraige finger to offset Eve Teasers.

Women are also told to dress conservatively in keeping with local standards!

Damn shame none of that works for the local women huh?

Hey I am gonna look in on the Iowa caucus now, then see what you are saying.

Peace brother,

Dione said...

Obama led in Iowa which is not surprising.
As much as I think America needs an African American president, I don't see him as being experienced enough.
Oregon has to wait around until May, which... sucks.