Over the last few years, as Dehra Dun has grown and as its population has increased, unfortunately, so has the problem of eve teasing. Once known as one of the safest cities for the fairer sex in India, Dehra Dun is now as bad as any average Indian city. Last Sunday’s episode in which three men on motorcycles, surrounded a girl driving back home after a tuition on a Scooty in front of NIVH should raise hackles of every concerned Doonite.
Why are there eve-teasers?
Eve teasing is prevalent in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh but absolutely unheard of in Nepal. It reflects the status of women in society and is a part of violence against the fairer sex in general.
Eve teasers are generally, though not always, men in late teens or early twenties from middle class families. They have been de-sensitized to gender equalities by seeing violence against women in their families and in audio-visual media. The famous song “Tu hain kar, ya na kar…… tu hai mari Kiran” and similar eve teasing songs and sequences in movies actually leads many such adolescents to believe that most love affairs start with eve teasing. That eve teasing can cause pain and anguish to the “eve” is never depicted in movies nor does it cross the minds of most such eve teasers. Understanding this mindset is important in treating such minds and to prevent labeling such persons as criminals.
A few eve teasers are middle aged and even elderly men or drunken laborers. They usually indulge in eve teasing if they think they can get away with it and in crowds and need to be dealt with harshly. Criminals usually are involved in more serious gender based crimes than eve teasing.
How can you and I prevent eve teasing?
- By setting an example. Respect women. Never laugh when a girl is being teased by boys, even if they are children. Inculcate a sense of respect for women since child hood. Explain the difference between reality and movies to children. Emphasize that “manliness” is not subjugating women but respecting them. Ingrain in girl children that they are as strong and brave as the boys.
- Protest if you are in vicinity of an eve teasing incident. Support actively a victim who is protesting instead of looking the other side. Look for a cop and shout at the perpetrator. Write about it to your local newspaper even if the victim does not want to talk about it. Speak up.
Role Police can play.
Unfortunately the police in Uttarkhand is already overburdened by law and order maintenance and VIP protection, and plagued by under staffing, that to expect it to go all out to prevent eve teasing would be difficult. The instant reaction of dismissing such complaints by the lower level staff in police is therefore expected. Launching Operation Majnu, once in a while, however has no long term impact.
- Increase Police presence and respect: There is a need to increase the presence and seriousness of the police deployment in the city. This will not only reduce eve teasing but reduce other crime in Dehra Dun as well.
The major traffic crossings are usually manned by one or two traffic policemen. They are too busy managing the traffic to see anything else. Most of them ignore rule breaking boys on motorcycles, who drive around without helmets, three on a bike and jumping red lights. This impunity of being able to break rules leads persons to do as they please, be it eve teasing or more serious offences.
A number of times the policemen make half hearted feeble attempts to stop such boys but the person just speeds up and flee away. Even girls driving without helmets flee away when asked to stop. Either there should be no policemen around but if they are there, they should implement the law effectively.
Further, “Cheetah Motorcycles” and PCR Vans could be prominently stationed at vantage points across the city, especially after dusk and should nab law breaking people even if they are college students. Such Cheetah motorcycles should be equipped with sirens and flashing lights, similar to the ones used by Delhi Police. Police presence in the form of a barrier or PCR van in front of NIVH will go a long way in providing citizens a sense of security in the area.
- Self defense training to girls: Delhi Police gives self defense training to girls in Delhi Schools free of cost. They hold courses in various schools, lasting for one or two weeks, 3hrs a day, for girls, especially in government schools. Lady Constables teach girls the art of self defense and after the course, a certificate is given.
This goes a long way in instilling self confidence and empowering girls to face adversities. Similar courses should be conducted by Uttarakhand Police for girls in Dehra Dun and possibly the whole of Uttarakhand.
Role of the State Government
- Expand 108 Helpline: to also serve as a women’s helpline and accept reports of cases of violence against women including eve teasing. The information should be passed to the police control room and a “Mahila Helpline” squad should reach the scene, at least in Dehra Dun, within 10 minutes of a report. They should help the victim in filing an FIR at the police station. This will reduce the tendency of lower level police personnel to “laugh away” the crime.
- Stop overcrowding in buses: In most of the buses in Dehra Dun people are packed like sardines. Even if a lady got in a bus when it was empty, it can quickly fill up in no time. Conductors of buses try and stuff in as many people as they possibly can. Why can’t the government access the requirement of city buses in different routes and run buses more frequently? Why aren’t bus drivers fined for overcrowding?
- Prevention of Violence against Women Act: should be invoked in Uttarakhand with specific provisions for eve teasing. First time eve teasers and those below 25yrs of age should be forced to do compulsory social service for a few days and attend a sensitization session with NGO’s involved. Repeat eve teasers and eve teasers over 25 yrs should be dealt firmly.
- Involve NGO’s: in a broader fight against violence against women. NGO’s can be used to sensitize children and adolescents against gender inequality and eve teasing. Skits, role playing and talks can change the attitude of potential eve teasers. Eve teasers can also be made to attend sensitization sessions in NGO’s in which they interact with reformed eve teasers. NGO’s can also be utilized in imparting self defense training to girls.
- Unisex Schools: tend to reduce the sensitivity of boys towards girls. Government schools should always be mixed sex schools. Boys in such schools have a healthier attitude towards women.
- Public Information Campaign: could be launched aimed at college going boys and men under 25, with one simple message: “Eve teasing is not a joke. It can land you in jail” Appropriate bill boards can be put up at vantage points across the city.