While most of us would agree that society has progressed in terms of economic development, social acceptance as well as political engagement, we cannot turn a blind eye to the long, almost infinite, stretch of passage that lies ahead of us which we need to cover so as to be proud inhabitants of a society. One such impediment to the growth of a world which practices social justice, is the issue of street sexual harassment, euphemistically called “Eve teasing”.
There has been a steady increase in the number of crimes against women and that is a fact known to all. Be it domestic violence, rape, or eve teasing, we, as a society, have been unjust to women since forever. If you are a woman, you would well be aware of the harassment that has unfortunately become a part of your daily reality. The degree of this might vary, depending upon which part of the world do you belong. The euphemisms that are attached to street sexual harassment such as eve teasing, catcalling and so on, reduce the seriousness of these crimes, coming from a patriarchal structure of language. However, we have come to use these terms in our daily lives so regularly that for the ease of understanding, we’ll be resorting to them. Now, the major thing that troubles women is that they more than often are left numb and are unable to fathom as to how to deal with eve teasing. In such situations and conditions, we’re here to suggest you some simple tips that might just help you.
This is one activity that every individual, irrespective of their gender, must undertake in the cruel world that we inhabit today. However, as we mentioned above, crimes against women have been on a steady rise, thereby, leaving women in a vulnerable and marginalised state. As a result, learning self-defense techniques is certainly going to come to your rescue in troublesome situations. Also, they’ll make your body much stronger and give you a sense of confidence, like never before.
9. Carry a Pepper Spray
Again, this is a measure that you may take on a regular basis so as to deal with attacks of street sexual harassment in a well-prepared manner. We do acknowledge the trauma and stress that come along with carrying a weapon for your safety as it makes you realise that you are constantly under threat, but there is only so much that we can do about it. Keep a bottle of pepper spray in your handbag and make sure that it is easily reachable. You don’t want to hunt for it in times of distress. Spray it in the eyes of your attacker and call the cops.
8. Call the Cops
More often than not, we find people blaming the victim/survivor for having attracted unnecessary attention. They even go further with this and urge them not to file a police complaint against the criminals. But, women, let me tell you all that is just patriarchal hokum and you need not submit to their ideas. When faced with a situation on roads or any other place for that matter, try to deal with it in a strong manner and call the cops. You might want to keep your phone fully charged from today onwards, at all times.
7. Raise Alarm
It is the patriarchal conditioning that tells women that you must stay silent whenever somebody attacks you and just bear the pain, lest the attacker turn even more brutal on you. Some might argue that it comes from a position of affect, but whatever might be the intent, this seems not that good an option. If you are in a public space, surrounded by a crowd, do raise an alarm. Ask for help. People will surely come up.
6. Speed Dial
There is nothing like the support of your family and friends. This is true in all cases, and eve teasing is no exception. You may save the numbers of the people on whom you can rely on speed dial. As when one is attacked, they go into a state of panic and cannot fully channelise their mental faculties. In order to deal with such a situation, it is smart to be prepared well in advance with all the ways in which you can deal with eve-teasing.
5. SOS Apps
We know that technology is both a boon and a bane. In case of women-centric issues, we find that today, revenge porn is on a rise due to the high accessibility to technology. But, at the same time, there are good souls who have made apps which come handy while dealing with eve-teasing or any other form of harassment. These apps come with an SOS button, which when pressed, sends an emergency message and your current location to your emergency contacts whom you can choose yourself. Make smart use of your smartphone.
4. Inform the Authorities
Public spaces have all sorts of varieties. If a mall comes under the realm of public space, so does your university college. There are so many reports of cases of sexual harassment that women face in their institutions! Be it school, or college, girls and women have to face unpleasant situations and due to lack of support from the society in general, they tend to keep mum about their experiences. It’s time to break that silence and women need to inform the authorities concerned. Usually, it is necessary for colleges to have a committee that deals with gender related issues. Inform them and whosoever is in-charge. Do not get scared as the perpetrators of the crime need to be punished severely.
3. Be Strong
Gone are the days or, it is time to bid goodbye to the days of rigid gendered normative structures that ask women to remain petite, quiet and fragile. It is the need of the hour for women to come out of their shells and be strong and bold. Remember that if you get scared, then the perpetrator of the crime think of you as a weakling and would get more courage to hurt you and assault you. Instead, if you are a strong and bold woman who knows how to resist, no matter what the physical strength is, it will alarm your attacker and startle him, giving you more strength in return.
2. Don’t Blame Yourself
We live in a sad world where victim blaming has become a daily reality and the most common way in which people react to cases of eve teasing and other forms of sexual harassment. Women are blamed for wearing revealing clothes, staying out of the house late at night, being too loud or attracting attention in some way or the other. If this is not sexist and misogynistic, we don’t know what is. Whatever the attacker does to you is their fault and not yours. You are a strong woman and you need to call out on the bullshit that these regressive patriarchal codes dictate. It is only then that you can complete the journey from being a victim to a survivor.
This might not reap you or the entire society immediate benefits but if we plan to bring out a structural change, then we need to take this very seriously. The people today do not even realise what they are doing due to peer pressure or by getting influenced from all wrong representations in popular culture, and commit the crime of eve-teasing in jest. They don’t realise that it is going to traumatise the other person and probably scar them for life. In such a situation, we need to sensitise our youth and elderly alike, of all genders, on the aspects of eve-teasing and other forms of sexual harassment. You may run campaigns, both online and offline. Talk to people. Spread the word. Engage in debates and try to make this world a better place. If this changes the thinking of even one person, it is a great start.