Posts Tagged ‘eveteasing’


Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your mother’s blood …

Your barely formed head…covered with sparse hair….wet…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your unformed breasts…

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your tiny caved in stomach…

The placenta torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your thin legs are crossed at the tiny delicate ankles…pink toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 

 I see you my daughter…

Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your own blood …

Your head covered with sticky mottled hair …lying bedraggled across your bare shoulders…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your beautiful bare breasts with burn marks …

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your curved stomach…

The womanhood torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your bare long legs are crossed at the ankles…red coloured toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 A journey of a million smiles ….a million blessings…so many tiny dancing steps…so many birthday gifts…a zillion words…so many classes and teachers… beautiful dreams …a journey of a million tears…

…to end from your mother’s blood in your own …from death to death …

 © Dr. Anita Hada Sangwan

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Guest post by Samar Esapzai, a visual artist and PhD student in International Rural Development and Gender Studies.

In an enlightening class I took last semester, my professor said something that stuck with me long after the class/semester ended, for it held so much raw truth. She said:

“The woman’s body is the battleground upon which cultural and religious wars are fought.”

Being a woman in any given society, whether it may be within South/Central Asia or in the West, there are often triggers of distress and tension, and the constant battle with one’s image and appearance that plays over and over again in a woman’s head like a broken record. We live in a world where, right from the time we are born up until we die, we are told that our body defines us; that our sexuality should be proscribed – protected; and that we should do everything in our power to guard our bodies – our honour – from the enemy: men. And, if we don’t, then the blame falls solely upon us.

While there are some who manage to break free from this never-ending cycle of staring, leering, gawking, examining, judging, etc., most women will, however, be forever stuck in this rut for the majority of their adult lives. The worst part is that some women have even accepted it – accepted that they, their bodies, are the reason behind every incident of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence that have been, and will be, inflicted upon them. It has almost become like an unspoken sort of awareness, where a woman suddenly realizes how dangerous her body is to her safety. And if she slips – even once – she will have no choice but to suffer the dire consequences that accompany it.

Furthermore, when we look back at history, especially in the context of war and conflict, women’s bodies have often been treated as territories to be conquered, claimed and marked by the contender. This is why violence, especially sexual violence, against women was and still is quite common during communal/ethnic conflicts. Women would not only be raped but their bodies would be marked in such a way so as to remind the opposing enemy that their women – who are supposed to be “pure” and a representative of the community’s/nation’s “honour” – are stained.

Such markings would include stripping a woman naked and serenading her in shame in public; physical mutilation and disfigurement, i.e. cutting off a woman’s private parts, or other parts of her body, such as her nose, ears, hair, etc.; tattooing and branding a woman on her private parts, i.e. her breasts and/or genitals, with hate slogans against the enemy; and other forms of debasements to emphasize conquest and suppression.

Thus, the violation of women’s bodies equates the same political territories upon which the men from the rioting communities would inscribe their markings on. It’s like an uncanny sort of relinquishment – a victory, where it becomes blatant that in order to defeat a nation, you must violate their women. Such atrocious violations against women hence create a sense of helplessness in communities where a woman’s honour is more important than her life. And in order to revive this honour, members of the community (usually male) have no choice but to kill off every single female who was either raped or physically/sexually violated in any way. For it is known that a woman’s dishonour is the dishonour of the ethnic race, the community, and the nation as a whole.

Consequently, the targeting of women’s bodies is both an effect and a cause of the acceptability of sexual violence against women. It serves to subjugate women further, and creates an environment where violence becomes habitual and is committed with impunity. And while there is no denying that the blame often falls upon the woman for failing to guard her body from being violated, even if it is against her own volition, an equal burden falls upon the shoulders of men who deeply value their women’s honour.

I personally believe that as long as such societies conventionalize the woman as a symbol of honour and continue to instrumentalize her in such an ignominious way, gender-based violence in these societies will persist, making any iota of progress seem bleak.

Even so, not all societies associate women with honour, despite the fact that rape and other forms of violence against women still occurs. There are societies, particularly within the South and Central Asian region, where a woman’s dignity equates her entire existence as well as the existence of those around her. And though it is clear that men, too, are targets and victims of violence, it is the gendered nature of violence that marks women’s experiences as wholly unique.


Guest post by Monica Sarkar, freelance journalist:

‘Eve teasing’. It’s such a cute, endearing term, isn’t it? Almost sounds like a child’s game, like ‘Hyde and Seek’ or ‘Kiss Chase’.

Well, it’s not. It’s a sugar-coated expression commonly used in India for the sexual harassment of women; invading their personal space as they walk down the street; and heckling, amongst other less pleasing but truthful terms.

Since the horrific Delhi gang-rape and murder of a 23-year old woman, many Indian women have come forward with their stories of the perils of being a woman in India. As a British-born Indian woman who has visited India many times, I can also share the same tales.

Men aggressively – or subtly – brushing past me or following me, even though I was in the company of elders. I was once getting off the metro in Kolkata in broad daylight and a crowd of men who were stood either side of the train doors suddenly moved in front so I would be forced to barge past them as I disembarked the train.

During New Year’s Eve in Goa a few years ago, similar occurrences happened whilst I was in the company of male and female friends in a crowded area of the North. It got so bad that I threateningly raised a water bottle to hit anyone who dared to come close, under the blind eyes of patrolling police officers. That’s the worst thing – not really knowing who you can turn to.

Even during the recent mass protests following the gang-rape attack, the BBC reported that men still tried to grope women in the crowd.

Can we talk?

But where does this frustration come from, to the point where a man will get his kicks from brushing past a strange woman? And why can it transform itself into a monstrous desire to abuse, or even kill?

Walk of life doesn’t matter either, as three politicians – governors of the country – resigned after being caught watching porn on their mobile phones in parliament. One was even a women’s affair minister.

Most importantly, if these men, or people close to them, feel they have a problem, where can they go and who can they talk to in order to solve it? There lies a real problem: Indians don’t talk enough about sex. Having spent extensive amounts of time in Indian society, talking about it is seen as embarrassing, or even dirty.

Even topics such as homosexuality or a physical or mental disability can be seen as shameful and hampering the chances of marriage.

The gang-rape victim’s friend recently revealed the hesitancy of passers-by and even the police to help them as they were left badly injured at the side of the road by the attackers. When asked why Indians do not discuss such issues, he reportedly told Zee News:

“In our society, we try to hide such things. If something bad has happened with us, then we try to hide thinking what will the other person say. Also because our friends and relatives talk behind our back about such incidents, that we try to prevent them from becoming public.”

Shame is on the woman

In fact, sexual assault or rape is commonly seen as humiliating for the victim. Attacks are so common that many Indian media outlets reuse the same images to illustrate stories of such attacks, usually depicted as a “shamed woman”.

In addition to these perceptions, there is a complete lack of trust in India’s justice and policing system to give people the confidence to come forward. In fact, Indians often joke about the carelessness of their police officers. But now is the time to stop laughing and start talking about the issues which are suppressed and subsequently not dealt with.

Official figures show that 228,650 of the total 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year in India were against women. It is thought that the real figure is much higher because of the many cases that are left unreported to the police.

India is a country of contrasts indeed. On the one hand, you have the peaceful haven of temples and ashrams and vibrant celebrations. On the other, you have a deeply rooted, dark culture of female oppression that lurks beneath a colourful surface.

However, with the mass outcry and demands for change, India has reacted brilliantly. Let’s not forget other countries in the shadow of this tragedy that have the same problems; I’ve been heckled and received sexual advancements in places like Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and even here in London too.

In India, the message is loud and clear – Indians have had enough. But along with protesting to governors of this country, Indians need to communicate more openly and freely with one another as well, in order to break taboos and cultivate understanding.

Firstly, though, let’s stop using a pretty name like ‘eve-teasing’, shall we? It’s called sexual harassment, or gender violence at its extreme. Let’s be very clear about that.


Guest post by Saurin Parikh, an advertising entrepreneur and a writer: 

It’s been nearly two weeks since the gang rape in Delhi, and the country remains abuzz with outrages & protests over the very unfortunate incident. In fact, calling it ‘unfortunate’ seems like an understatement. It just shouldn’t have happened. Rapes and sexual abuses of any kind shouldn’t happen even once, but the fact that they happen with such frequency is alarming and disheartening.

We can’t begin to fathom what goes through the mind of a man who rapes a woman. What is even more difficult to understand is what goes through the mind of the woman who is being raped. A rape leaves scars that cannot be seen and cannot be healed. No one else but the victim can know what these emotional scars feel like. Which is probably why we outage where we can.

However, it would be wrong if we stopped at merely outraging and protesting. People are taking to the streets and forcing the government out of inaction, but that’s never going to be enough. You and I are definitely not going to do anything that will change the apathetic behaviour of our police force or the selfish nature of our politicians, but what we can change is our own outlook.

We can stop being indifferent, and help someone in need. The girl fought with all her will, she received the finest medical treatment in India and even in Singapore, but to no avail. We woke up today morning to the news of her death, to the news of another blossoming life ending abruptly, and cruelly. There have been reports that she and her friend had been lying on the roads of Delhi after being thrown out of the bus for nearly 3 hours. I am appalled at the rapists, but I am more appalled at everybody else who saw them lying there but chose to ignore them. Why didn’t even one person help them? I am sure her life would have been saved if she had received medical attention sooner. In cases like these, a few minutes can make a world of a difference. She was left unattended for 3 hours.

We protest over the government inaction, we outrage over the mindset of the rapists, but we forget to blame those bystanders who didn’t help the girl when she needed it the most. What would you have done? Ordinarily, most of us would have chosen to look the other way as well. And this is exactly what we need to change.

Next time you come across a situation of eve teasing, physical abuse or harassment of any kind, don’t look the other way. We can stop ourselves from turning a blind eye to such situations, something that we usually do. It’ll be tough, we might get into a fight, we might get harassed by the police, we might be at the risk of causing harm to ourselves, but if we really want things to change, we have got to be the ones to initiate it. We can’t sit back and blame the government for not doing enough, we aren’t doing enough either.

A lot of crimes are committed because the culprit knows that in 9 cases out of 10, the victim will receive no help from the people around them. It’s time for us to bring that ratio down. Outrage on the internet as much as you want, protests on the streets as much as you can, but when faced with a real situation, make sure you help a probable victim from turning into a victim. That will be one less life ruined and one less incident to outrage about.


Guest post by Anushree Kejriwal:

 

Amidst the simmering anger I try writing this post hoping that the flame won’t extinguish. So the rapes continue to happen, candle light marches, silent protests (the entire concept is a farce in my opinion though), blogs and demand for castration for the rapists. I totally second the latter though. It has happened and the enormity of the situation has probably ensured that the government wakes up.

Indeed it has. Politicians are flocking in to meet the lady, open letters are being written but introspection level is zero.

I don’t intend to blame anyone; I feel I am responsible for myself. Like me there are many others who are staying away from their loved ones in order to make a career for themselves. Our parents are constantly nagging us by commanding do this do that, in short do everything to protect yourself.

What we need is public support. Small incidents (according to the administration) like ‘eve teasing’ should be dealt with stronger steps. I do not mean that the police should necessarily be involved.

If someone is stalking or teasing you, create a scene. God has blessed you with a tongue, use it. He has given you two hands, use it. Shout in public. The public is a conglomerate of a variety of people: few are deaf, few are ignorant and a few are genuinely helpful. Let’s just ignore the two former cases and try harnessing the latter category.

Many women use the Metro for daily commuting, and prefer travelling in ladies’ coach than the general one. The myth that it’s safe is well just a myth. I often see men acting like bees, pushing themselves into the coach trying to catch a glimpse of the flowers for some honey. No one stops them because everybody is too busy with earphones plugged into their ears. That’s where we give a hint that we are weak.

The moment you raise your voice and protest, you will see the opposite sex simmering down. If someone is trying to “feel you”, be bold enough to make sure that the soles of your sandal feel his head. I repeat, harness the public’s energy. Mao said that revolution without bloodshed is impossible. Times have changed so we don’t need to shed blood, but we need to shed the cloak around us. Raise your voice once and see the difference. You will feel stronger and make the opposite sex feel weaker.

We are girls and not mules. No incident is small, even a simple case of “eve-teasing” should be dealt with harsh usage of words and sandals.

What happened to the Delhi gang rape survivor [and millions like her] was unfortunate and cannot be reversed but what may happen in the future can very well be prevented. Be responsible for your own self and see to how others acknowledge your importance. Whenever required shout, abuse and use your hands and sandals judiciously.