Yes, a woman who is eve-teased is asking for it. At least, that’s what some women’s colleges in Kanpur seem to think. Before we even start dissecting and criticising this logic, let’s get one thing straight. The term eve-teasing trivialises an extremely serious issue; that of street sexual harassment. Most companies have a strict anti-sexual harassment policy. But, on the street, there seems to be no protection whatsoever. Even assuming that this can be classified as teasing, isn’t it the culprit’s responsibility to behave better?
The colleges in question have banned their students from wearing tight clothes. To quote the Indian Express new item,
“Four leading women’s colleges of Kanpur have banned students from wearing jeans, tight tops besides other tight-fit clothes, sleeveless blouses and high heels on the campus.”
Pray, why? Because wearing jeans and sleeveless tempts men into looking and lusting. As if they don’t lust after women who are modestly dressed. Every woman has faced sexual harassment in some form at some point in her life. What we wear, or how we behave has nothing to do with it. A sixty-year old man once flashed me on the street. I was then 13 years old and was wearing my school uniform. Even then, it’s my responsibility to not provoke sexual harassment? WTF? Yesterday was a case in point. I was out with two male friends at a place I consider a second home. We were talking animatedly about work, and life in general. After about 15 minutes of conversation, I noticed a guy sitting a short distance away, directing his phone’s camera lens at me. I moved away, trying to stay out of the line of sight of the camera. I don’t think it worked. I was getting increasingly uncomfortable and the two guys I was with were oblivious to the reason behind it. Thankfully, the guy saw me looking and moved away. But, this incident made me extremely insecure.
Here I was, in a place I was extrmely comfortable with, with guys I knew very well, and yet I was insecure. I was wearing a salwar kameez. Nothing remotely revealing. Nothing “western or decadent”. Yet, he was trying to capture me on his camera. So, it’s my fault that I was even there? Or was it because I was talking to two men and apparently comfortable with it? Or maybe because I was well-dressed? Or was it because I came across as friendly and hence the guy assumed he could cross the line? Whatever it is, the problem was with him, not with me. Blaming the victim doesn’t help the cause. As IHM points out, boys don’t even realise that they are wrong, seeing as they are never pulled up for their behaviour. They grow up thinking that if they lust after a woman and ogle, it’s the woman’s fault. It’s never their responsibility to behave. It’s the woman’s to ensure they behave by covering up to the maximum. When will this change? Will be ever get principals who pull up the culprits and report them, instead of ordering the girls to come covered up? Will we ever get a police force that takes complaints of sexual harassment seriously and stop questioning the girl and slandering her? Will we ever get a public that’s more sesitive to the issue and recognises its seriousness? I am slowly losing hope. Someone tell me.