Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India and sometimes Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve.
Considered a problem related to delinquency in youth it is a form of sexual aggression that ranges in severity from sexually suggestive remarks, brushing in public places, catcalls, to outright groping. Sometimes it is referred to with a coy suggestion of innocent fun, making it appear innocuous with no resulting liability on the part of the perpetrator. Many feminists and voluntary organizations have suggested that the expression be replaced by a more appropriate term. According to them, considering the semantic roots of the term in Indian English, eve-teasing refers to the temptress nature of Eve, placing responsibility on the woman as a tease, as though the aggressive response of the males was normal rather than criminal.
Eve-teasing has been a notoriously difficult crime to prove, as perpetrators often devise ingenious ways to attack women, even though many feminist writers term it as "little rapes", and usually occur in public places, streets, and public transport.
Some guidebooks to the region warn female tourists that eve teasing may be avoided by wearing conservative clothing, though eve teasing is reported both by Indian women and by conservatively-dressed foreign women.
Though the problem received public and media attention in 1960s, it was in the following decades, when more and more women started going out to colleges and work independently, which means they are often no longer accompanied by a male escort as had been a norm in traditional society, that the problem grew to an alarming proportion. Soon the Indian government had to take remedial measures, both judicial and law enforcement, to curb the menace and efforts were made to sensitize the police about the issue, and police started rounding up eve teasers. The deployment of plain-clothed female police officers for the purpose has been particularly effective, other measures seen in various states were setting up of Women's Helpline in various cities, Women Police stations, and special anti-eve-teasing cells by the police.
Also seen during this period was a marked rise in number women coming forward to report incidence of eve-teasing like cases of sexual harassment due to changing public opinion against eve-teasers. In addition, the severity of eve-teasing incidences grew as well, in some cases leading to acid throwing, which in turn led to states like Tamil Nadu making eve-teasing a non-bailable offense. The number of women's organization and those working for women's rights also saw a rise, especially as this period also saw a rise in reports of bride burning. The increase in violent incidents towards women meant previously lackadaisical attitudes towards women's rights had to be abandoned by law makers. In the coming years, such organizations played a key role in lobbying for the eventual passing of legislation designed to protect women from violent eve-teasing, including 'The Delhi Prohibition of Eve-teasing Bill 1984'.
The death of a female student, Sarika Shah, in Chennai in 1998, caused by Eve-teasing, brought some tough laws to counter the problem in South India. After this case, there has been about half-a-dozen reports of suicide that have been attributed to pressures caused by eve teasing. In 2007, an eve-teasing resulted in the death of Pearl Gupta, a college student in Delhi. In February 2009, female students from M.S. University (MSU) Vadodara assaulted four young men near the family and community sciences faculty, after they passed lewd comments on a girl student staying in SD Hall hostel.
Many other cases go unreported for fear of reprisals and exposure to public shame. In some cases police let the offenders go, after public humiliation through the murga punishment. In 2008, a Delhi court ordered a 19-year-old youth, after he was caught eve-teasing, to distribute 500 handbills, detailing the consequences of indecent conduct, to youngsters outside schools and colleges.
Depiction in popular culture
Traditionally, Indian cinema has depicted eve teasing as a part of flirtatious beginnings of a courtship, along with the usual accompaniment of song and dance routines, which invariably results in the heroine submitting to the hero's advances towards the end of the song, and young men tend to emulate the example, depicted so flawlessly on screen and which gave rise to the Roadside Romeo which even made it a film version in Roadside Romeo (2007)(Staring Saif Ali Khan). It also has been popularly depicted that when a girl is teased by eve teasers, the hero will come beat them up, such as in the Telugu films "Madhumasam" and "Magadheera" and also the Hindi Movie "Wanted". Now-a-days this issue is also shown in Indian Television Soaps.
Though Indian law doesn't use the term 'eve-teasing', victims usually take recourse to Section 298 (A) and (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which sentences a man found guilty of making a girl or woman the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation for a maximum tenure of three months. Section 292 of the IPC clearly spells out that showing pornographic or obscene pictures, books or slips to a woman or girl draws a fine of Rs.2000 with two years of rigorous imprisonment for first offenders. In case of repeated offence, when and if proved, the offender will be slapped with a fine of Rs.5000 with five years imprisonment. Under Section 509 of the IPC, obscene gestures, indecent body language and acidic comments directed at any woman or girl carries a penalty of rigorous imprisonment for one year or a fine or both.
‘Fearless Karnataka’ or ‘Nirbhaya Karnataka’ is a coalition of many individuals and groups including ‘Alternative Law Forum’, ‘Blank Noise’, ‘Maraa’, ‘Samvada’ and ‘Vimochana’. After rise of eve teasing cases in 2000s, it organized several public awareness campaigns, including 'Take Back the Night’, followed by another public art project titled, The Blank Noise Project, starting in Bangalore in 2003. A similar program to fight eve-teasing was also hosted in Mumbai in 2008.
In Delhi, one of India's most dangerous cities for women, the Department of Women and Child Development established a steering committee in 2009 to prepare the city for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010.
In Mumbai, Ladies Special trains have been introduced to allow women working and studying in the city to travel without the fear of Eve-teasing, for the length of the journey at least. With the number of women needing to travel doubling since 1995, there is a very strong demand for these kinds of services.. Today "Ladies Special" Compartments are present in all local trains of the big cities. In other trains, ladies are advised to travel in AC Coaches as these would be free of the economically poor and socially backward eve-teasers.
- Sexual harassment
- Chikan (sexual harassment and groping) in Japan
- The Blank Noise Project
- Sexism in India
- Zinda, a Bollywood movie focusing the unpleasant consequences of eve-teasing and the punishment of a teaser.
- Crimes Against Women and Protective Laws, by Shobha Saxena. Published by Deep & Deep Publications, 1995.
- Sexual Harassment: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives, by Alison M. Thomas, Celia Kitzinger. Published by Open University Press, 1997. ISBN 0335195806.
- Chapt. 10: Sexual Harassment In India: A Case Study of Eve-Teasing in Historical Perspective. Rethinking Sexual Harassment, by Clare Brant, Yun Lee Too. Published by Pluto Press, 1994. ISBN 0745308384. Page 200.
- Eveteasing In India And Tortious Liabilities - Author - B.Jyoti Kiran - Legal perspectives
- Vishakha V. State Of Rajasthan (JT 1997 (7) SC 384) Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
- Here It is called eve-teasing Woman, Body, Desire in Post-colonial India: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality, by Jyoti Puri. Published by Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0415921287. Page 87.
- Eve-Teasing The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, by Grant Barrett. Published by McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006. ISBN 0071458042. Page 109.
- Eve-Teasing Image Makers: An Attitudinal Study of Indian Police, by Giriraj Shah. Published by Abhinav Publications, 1993 ISBN 8170172950. Page 233-234.
- Lewd nature goes unchecked Kanpur, The Times of India, February 26, 2009.
- Controlling eve-teasing The Hindu, Tuesday, April 13, 2004.
- Harassment in public places a routine for many The Times of India, Jaipur, February 15, 2009.
- Eve teasing The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: India: The Emerging 21st-Century Power, by Shashi Tharoor, Published by Arcade Pub., 2007. ISBN 1559708611. Page 454-455.
- Laws and Legislative Measures Affecting Women by National Commission for Women (NCW) National Commission for Women (NCW).
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- Eve-Teasing Time, Monday, September 12, 1960.
- Citations of the word which show it dates to at least as early as 1960
- Eve teasing Women Police in a Changing Society: Back Door to Equality, by Mangai Natarajan. Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008. ISBN 0754649326. Page 54.
- Special squad to nab eve-teasers formed in Kerala
- Special team to check roadside romeos in Allahabad Majnu Ka Pinjra, Indopia, February 20, 2009.
- Murder charges in eve-teasing case Indian Express, Monday, July 27, 1998.
- MSU hostel girls beat up eve teasers The Times of India, February 23, 2009.
- Pak police reins in eve-teasers with 'murga' punishment Daily Excelsior, October 10, 2007.
- Public prosecution: Crime and instant punishment! The Times of India, June 29, 2006.
- Youth held for eve-teasing, told to distribute handouts Indian Express News Service, June 10, 2008.
- Eve teasing Encyclopaedia of Social Change, by Laxmi Devi. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2004. ISBN 8174881611. Page 159-160.
- Sexual Harassment Indian Feminisms: Law, Patriarchies and Violence in India, by Geetanjali Gangoli. Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0754646041.Page 63.
- Women's Day special: Not just eve-teasing! Deccan Herald, Saturday, March 7, 2009.
-  Rediff.com, March 4, 2008.
- Statistics on metros from the National Crime Records Bureau, India
- Delhi Versus "Eve Teasers": a Race Against Time, Ketaki Gokhale, Wall Street Journal, 14-Sep-2009
- Mumbai's Ladies Special train leaves the commuter sex pests behind, Helen Alexander and Rhys Blakel, Times Online UK, 14-Oct-2009
- Fighting eve-teasing: rights and remedy
- Eve teasing and male dominance
- In India, Women Fight Harassment of "Eve Teasing"
- Bangladesh 'Eve Teasing' craze takes a terrible toll