For Blank Noise : Scraps.

The following post is for the Blank Noise Project Blog-a-thon which seeks to record testimonies, thoughts, analyses etc of street harassment. Please go read what other people have to say too. There are some really horrific, insightful, intelligent, despairing, heart-breaking posts out there.




Written in 2002.


I don't want to be here. Odours silence my restive cries as my mouth opens and closes several times like a fish. I lay still on a red and black seat - torn in places with cotton peeping through - as disembodied hands slide under the red tee-shirt I thoughtlessly chose this morning. Reality borrows the clarity of dreams, but disposes of the promise to wake me up. From the corner of my eye I can see the taxi driver through the rear view mirror looking forcefully at the streets ahead of him. I know I will die today. I know I will be cut into four pieces, tucked into a V.I.P duffel bag and tossed into the Arabian Sea."You're so're so beautiful", the words segue into noisy orgasms that only I can hear. I'm losing track of what's happening. A tongue entangled in frantically making their way to bra is being masterfully unhooked...we're taking a left turn...maybe it's a right turn...? "You shouldn't dress so're so fucking beautiful..fucking beautiful..." The rest of the sentence merges into the restlessness of a Bombay weekday. Abruptly,the cab stops at a red light. He sits up straight, stretching his hands. Then, he opens the door and steps out, peers in through the slightly open window and smiles. "Thanks".



A few months ago, I was at Bandra station at about 6:30 in the evening. As I made my way through the throngs of clammy chaos - dodging stray elbows, lewd comments, lecherous stares, "accidental" run-ins - I spotted a group of young men congregating by the rickshaw stand. I made a mental note to stay away from them; they wore the kind of sneers that meant trouble. A few minutes later, I saw a girl barely 18 or 19 years of age. As she walked by them, the young man closest to her reached out and hit her breast forcefully with the back of his hand. The others laughed exaggeratedly and congratulated his audacity with high fives. The girl - like everyone else who'd witnessed the incident - simply walked away.


I wanted to see if she was okay, but she'd scurried into a rickshaw already. Regardless I knew exactly how she felt. I knew her eyes were probably stinging with tears of frustration, humiliation, helplessness, anger. I knew that she regretted walking away, that she was probably rehearsing an appropriately scathing response for the next time it happened. Worst of all, I knew she knew that there would be a next time.


I don't know why we're so apathetic to street harassment - the majority of public spaces in this country are cesspools of misogynist behaviour. To me, being leered and leched at is as much a part of my every day life in Bombay as brushing my teeth. I'm not even really sure what gratification someone gets from calling a female passer-by a "saxxxxy item." You've all heard the feminist rhetoric before but it all does go back to power; they get off on knowing they can get away with their impudence.


It's only recently that I've realised that "eve-teasing" - I hate that word with a passion, but there it is - is actively condoned by Bollywood. I get the feeling that when a 15 year old whistles at me, he half expects my initial spurn to transform into perfectly choreographed pelvic thrusts, with hot-pink clad dancers mimicking my every move.


No, seriously, who remembers the song "Aankh Maare?" or "Aaja Meri Gadi Mein Bait Ja?" or really, any of the other 5462 Bollywood songs where a roadside romeo follows (read: harasses) a girl, interpreting her blatant lack of consent as coyness or irritation or a personality quirk? He is, of course, right and eventually she falls desperately in love with our eve-teasing protagonist who turns out to be quite the paragon of virtue.


I'm not saying, of course, that it's all Bollywood's fault, but my point is that we live in a culture that breeds and encourages sexist behaviour. We teach our daughters to "dress properly" and "behave modestly" but why can't we teach our sons to be more respectful, less aggressive?


In the words of one of my favourite sociologists, "The rules of masculinity and femininity are strictly enforced, and this difference equals power. The difference between male and female sexualities reproduces men’s power over women and simultaneously the power of some men over other men, especially of the dominant, hegemonic form of manhood – straight, white, middle class – over marginalized masculinities. (…)"


I used to carefully calculate my outfit before leaving the house - I had to make sure my shirt wasn't too tight, my bra strap was safely invisible, my jeans weren't too low, my skirt wasn't too short - and despite the (positively oppressive) precautions I took, I still got pinched, poked, grabbed. Day after day after day.


No more.


Now I wear what I want because it doesn't make a difference. I didn't ask for it, I don't ask for it. I never will ask for it.


I try relentlessly to stop feeling shame, to treat my own body with the respect it deserves. It's an arduous journey, but slowly and not without setbacks, I - like several other women I know - am getting there


- Action Hero Auri

No. Stop.

 No. Stop.

 lets start from kashmere gate station, delhi. though i would invariably board from paharganj, somehow my return trips would always dump me at kashmere gate. in a whoosh, autowallahs, cabbies and all sundry would envelop me. not unnatural. then it would come. every single time. "madam, kahan jaayenge? kahan, madam? majnu ka tila? chalo, hum chod dete hain" i would walk rod-straight. NO "nahin, bhaiyya"s and all. still it would go on. "koi nahin, madam. majnu ka tila hi jana hai na? sau rupai. bas. aap ke liye." i would just focus on the pre-paid counter, now a few metres ahead. "chalo, madam. majnu ka tila ke liye free. bas. aayiye." a peel of laughter and sniggers would ring loud. every single time. the ordeal of a woman on a street anywhere in india has started. it becomes tougher and nastier if the woman is a north-eastern to boot. double 'fun' for the men. double trouble for the woman. for the uninitiated, majnu ka tila is a prominent red-light area near north campus, delhi university. the sex workers of that area are invariably from sikkim, nepal, north-east india etc; in mainstream lingo 'chinkies'; in mainstream mentality 'cheap, easy girls'. jabberwock talks about the divorced women as easy prey. north-eastern women anywhere in india (except in the north-east) have to face double, treble, qaudruple the same 'easy prey' mentality. on streets, schools, colleges, offices, friends' houses, parties, restaurants etc etc.


: north campus. am standing at a divider. i have to pop in at srcc for some work. a maruti 800 is racing up, full blaring music. not unnatural. before i realize it, a mineral water bottle hits my right knee. a lusty chorus 'oye, chinki' follows.


: noida mod. am again standing at a divider. i have to cross the street and get a bus. it is dark. a black cielo pulls up. not very natural. window rolls down. a well-dressed man behind the wheels. he takes out a wad of notes and then, "oye, chinki, kitne mein aayegi?" full-throat laughter. zips away.


: coming back from iit. safdarjung bus stop. a man behind me. "do you want to go for dinner? five-star hotel?" i ignore him. its dark already. i take a mudrika. after an hour or so, i get down at camp. the same man again. "special dinner. five-star". i walk straight to the first traffic policeman i see at the signal. the man disappears suddenly.


this is just delhi. i have more to say about bangalore, mumbai, kolkata, agra, shimla...


- Action Hero Bem


Harassment : Blog-a-thon

What do you do if you are not someone who has been harassed, or have not seen anyone be harassed? That is more a question to me than to you. I guess there might be something right there.


Most of these incidents that I have read have been harassment where the victim's response is muted and does not draw attention to the harassment when it happens. Perhaps, in a society where people take their perceived self-respect a little seriously, they continue to engage in this behavior not because they won't get referred to the police, but they won't even evoke a whisper. At least in all cases where the victim knows what is happening to them, and can raise the issue. I think that might have made the issue claimed to be present everywhere to be there on every mind too. Won't you think that would help?


It would be a good question to ask, how can men (since they form the significant problem) who commit harassment change? I fear not. At least historically better judgment has dawned on the 'bad guys' only at the end of the struggle. For example, take the Indian independence, or Segregation, the untouchability issue, or the feminist movement. The way forward is for people who are compassionate to rally behind the cause, not just in the streets, but every place, including work, home, and temples. The issue then will receive the attention of the society and no one can neglect, and people who had been committing these crimes will know to not just stop, but some may even be won over to rally the cause.


There are many factors, many reasons for why it is so, many ways to break it. This issue and every other issue that we face needs persistent effort from us if we are to make earth a better place. Now, I go hopping on to the blog of the fellow bloggers in the blogathon


- Action Hero Bharath

Project Blank noise

At work today, every free moment I got, I spent reading the blogs participating in the Blank Noise blogathon. By the end of the day, I was physically sick. I had a pounding headache. I was nauseous and all I wanted to do, was to come home and puke my guts out. I could identify with most of what these bloggers had gone through and there’s nothing, I can say that has not been said before. I guess, I am still posting my blog to stand in solidarity with these people who spoke up. I am hoping that any one reading these posts, feels, the angst of those who have spoken up and the helplessness of those that continue to suffer in silence. I also hope that we can take steps towards a better tomorrow and a safer environment.


You can take a gal out of Delhi, but you can never take Delhi out of her. Delhi stays with her, in her mind, in her heart and in her psyche.


She remembers Jan path and the black oxidized jewelry. She remembers Aga Khan Hall and the silver filigree ear studs she had picked up. She remembers Dilli Haat and the momos she consumed there with so much relish, with her friends. How does she forget the lucknavi dupatta she picked up at Dilli haat at bargain price. That dupatta that still surrounds her with the warm memories of a cold night spent at Parthasarthy Rock, waiting for the sun to come up.


She also remembers the hand that grabbed her chest when she was barely 12. She hadn’t realized by then, that, she had breasts and those could be grabbed and pinched and stuff like that happens with an alarming regularity. Quite an eye opener for a young gal. She was suddenly in a strange new world. A world, where, uncles weren’t nice anymore. Where she never knew what would rub against her when and where. Older bhaiyyas couldn’t be trusted anymore. She could no longer walk anywhere and anytime. From passes made by rickshwallahs to weird noises, from groping and fingering to lewd gestures. All part and parcel of daily life in Delhi. Yes, one learns to dress to cover up, to walk without looking like an invitation (what is that supposed to mean anyways). Yet, in spite of how one dresses or how one acts, one cannot escape. The filth is not on a female body; it’s in the mind. If you are a female, you are a maal. And there will be comments. “Dekh, aisa lag raha hai, jaise nangi chali aa rahi hai.” (Look, it seems like she is walking naked) This comment loud enough to be heard, on an outfit that consisted of a salwar suit in peach, with the kurta buttoned to the neck, a sweator in almond color and a peach shawl wrapped on top of all this. In other words, dressed for a women’s convention in Saudi Arabia and yet a piece of naked flesh to those psychos on the road. Did she react? No. Although, if looks could kill, most of the Delhi men would be dead. Did she care? Yes. Because she still remembers after 7-8 yrs as she sits and types this out.


Take this Delhi gal out of Delhi,and, put her in streets of New York City. She still dresses conservatively. The scowl she picked up on Delhi streets is still in place and remains there. She does not know the people yet. She walks alone but does not smile. It takes a tall African American guy walking towards her to lean in and say, “smile for me, will ya?” In spite of herself, she smiles and has been smiling. This gal has walked alone in the night in Manhattan for 22 blocks before her friend could come and pick her up. She was not teased once. Yes, a gentleman offered her his cell phone to use. She did not fear being touched or cat called at that night. Yes, she feared being mugged.


Lets follow this Delhi Gal to Tokyo. You can see her on the roads, with her tiny earplugs. You can see her; She might see you, or she might not. She is lost in her own world, in her music and her thoughts. She is smiling to herself and humming some tune, occasionally breaking out in a song at full volume. So, If you ever hear piya teri bawari se raha jaye na on a Tokyo road, Smile at this Delhi gal. She is happy. She is safe. She no longer frowns and no longer carries sharpened pencils in her pockets. She is not in Delhi anymore. Of course, she still dresses conservatively. You can’t really take Delhi out of her.


I’ve mainly written about Delhi, as that's where I attended undergrad and masters and commuted and therefore suffered the most eve teasing. There have been incidents earlier and that brings one to the issue of sex Ed and protecting kids who are just too young to understand what’s happening to them. The very first incident I can think of happened when we were at Doha and I was around 11-12. This UNCLE who visited often enough did this funny thing every time he could get me alone. Then it felt funny, but still by the second time, it had become clear to me that something was not right and I simply should not be alone with him. Only much later did I realize that he was trying to feel me up.


And then the breast-grabbing incident in Delhi happened. At that time it was a one off thing, as I did not commute much.


Zoom forward to a few years later. We were at Abu Dhabi then. Mom, an aunt and I were in the souk. Mom and aunt were busy looking at something and I was just looking around when I caught site of this tall Arab guy. He had raised his gown and he had his member in his hand. That gave me nightmares for years to come.


And then we were back in Delhi. College came with its paraphernalia of commuting and guys high on hormones and not enough sense. Though, why just blame the hormone guys, it felt like every one was doing it. Every day was a different nightmare on the same theme.


That's why the contrast with New York and Tokyo. These places aren’t without their harrasment problems. But it isn’t as rampant as in Delhi. I am sure, things happen here too. Just that I have not experienced anything unsavory, except for one Japanese gentleman taking me for something else and asking if he could have a good time with me. He ambled away once I replied in the negative. This, despite the Tokyo subway, having the reputation of being the grope capital.


Makes me wonder about the cultural differences between different places and what one can do to make a positive difference.


- Action Hero Bilbo

Blank Noise Blogathon: Part I

It is usual to hear all those who feel moved by the deplorable condition of the Untouchables unburden themselves by uttering the cry "We must do something for the Untouchables". One seldom hears any of the persons interested in the problem saying 'Let us do something to change the Touchable Hindu'. It is invariably assumed that the object to be reclaimed is the Untouchables. If there is to be a Mission, it must be to the Untouchables and if the Untouchables can be cured, untouchability will vanish. Nothing requires to be done to the Touchable. He is sound in mind, manners and morals. He is whole, there is nothing wrong with him. Is this assumption correct? Whether correct or not, the Hindus like to cling to it. The assumption has the supreme merit of satisfying themselves that they are not responsible for the problem of the Untouchables.


That's Ambedkar, in a quote Black Mongoose discovered in a piece by S. Anand in the last issue of Seminar ('Dalit Perspectives'). Anand (in the Seminar article and in the similar Notes on my Brahmin Self), takes on his Brahminhood with self-flagellating excess of the same sort that BM is prone to. A commenter agrees:


From a very early age my family ensured that we were conscious about our brahmin roots and I think this actually helped fashion my own resistance. ... My socialisation however was not just as a brahmin, it had three other very important dimensions: masculinity, heterosexuality and middle class urbanity.


It was much the same for BM, though he supposes the second dimension ought to be heteronormativity [1], but the thesis stands. Raghu agonises over the question in his Blank Noise Blogathon post:


There is a deep-set paradox in trying to be an ally (and by an ally I mean the Swarthmore connotation, someone offering support and solidarity to the members of a group who face a kind of disadvantage that he or she does not), particularly in trying to be a straight male ally to women's fronts against sexism.


Into this socialization-questioning discourse does BM jump with the slightly unique perspective of the not-straight ally.



Here's Hedgehog with his harassment story (edited slightly):


...the bastard slid his hand over onto mine! And actually ran his finger over my thigh! Yuck! Yuck! I could have puked with all the disgust welling up inside me. Man! I think after that I handled the situation rather tactfully though, asked him to stop the car and after hitting him with the book I was holding, not the most manly thing to do I guess. I walked the rest of the way home in a sort of daze. I even looked behind a couple of times just to make sure he wasn't following me home.

Did you know that??!! These things really happen!! Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghh! Horrible! I am a victim!


It might be worth spending a minute over Hedgehog's account. Hedgehog might be the nicest hedgehog there is, but there you have it. His all-too-male shock at being a 'victim' -- product of a socialization masculine, heteronormative, middle-class -- is instructive. Black Mongoose / Red Raccoon's own story is set in picturesque Cubbon Park, where on a reading expedition, he


suddenly ... turned around to find an old perv, who seemed to have followed him scampering through the grass, making offers of fellatio. RR has heard of such iniquity, but he had not expected it to strike on a sunny forenoon. He ran as far as his short legs could take him with not a glance behind and welcomed the sight of the imposing Vidhan Souda ahead.


Note the easy use of 'old perv', 'bastard', etc. BM sees, in himself at least, a touch of bewilderment that men can get harassed as well. A little voice points out that this relatively harmless thing you're being such a drama queen about is enacted a hundred times every day if you're a woman on public transport.


[To be continued, with apologies to Hedgehog for reducing him to a case study]


[1] A word so useful it ought not to exist. Just so one can complain about its non-existence.


- Action Hero Black Mongoose

'Joke'...that's what has become of eve teasing in India today.

Had been a long time since I wrote on my blog,had almost forgotten that it exists. I'm writing today for a cause,as a part of Blog-a-thon 2006 (Please visit for more details)


Almost everyone of you must've seen this recent hit "Rang De Basanti". I remember a scene where this foreigner lands at Delhi University and the guy at the entrance teases her saying "Madam,which country?" and she gives a witty reply "India,I suppose!" . And the spectators laugh,it's supposed to be a joke.


'Joke'...that's what has become of eve teasing in India today. What the girl faces when she is teased/molested/groped,the mental trauma she undergoes,the feeling of being used that she experiences,the disgust,anger,helplessness... have all become a joke and have been shrouded by things less important like what the girl was wearing,whether she attracted undue attention from the guys,which finally end up diverting and subduing the entire core issue of the girl having been victimised. And in the melee,the guilty escape unpunished.


I recall that when i was in Delhi a year back,one of my friends' friend was drugged by her 'friends' at a late-night party and raped,she was left helpless and bleeding in the city centre from where her highly influential parents picked her up. Back in her house,she was condemned and confined to a room without being attended by any doctor or a nurse,with her influential dad worrying and brooding about what'll happen to his status if the news leaks.She was scolded for not listening to them when they warned her against attending late-night parties,when they told her to wear 'dignified' clothing. Within hours,she was shifted out of Delhi and within a month,she was out of India,perhaps never to return again. A girl gets raped,a highly educated and influential dad fears to complain to the police fearing the 'society'...and the culprits...they escape unharmed,unpunished...maybe to repeat the crime again someday.


If that is what happens to those who're raped in India,imagine what can happen to a girl who's eve-teased. People's attitude is like,"She's afterall eve-teased,no big deal!" Perhaps we have to borrow a leaf out of the same movie "Rang De Basanti", bring about a revolution in the mindset of the people towards women in India. It's not only about changing the mindset of men,but also women who're not only mere spectators but at times directly/indirectly are abettors in such crimes. It's high time that women fight for a decent and dignified standing in this country (I'm at present confining myself to India to begin with).


Women should perhaps start beating up the perpetrators to begin with,if not kill them. It amounts to taking the law into their own hands,but since our police and legal systems have gone to dogs,they have no option but to take up cudgels with their male partners.


And also an overall upliftment in the status of women by prevention of female foeticide,prevention of dowry,better education,reservation in parliament,entry into the top echelons of the government and in private industries will all go a long way in preventing these unpleasant incidents like eve-teasing.Everybody in the society should fight for these causes.


I don't want to mix this issue with 'decent' dressing and 'staring/seeing' issues which are applicable to both men and women,they're quite debatable and will write about it someother time.


- Action Hero Blink Dreamz

No, Thank You

“Do you want some entertainment?


Absolute silence. And then a polite


“No, thank you.”


Rolling up of car windows with summoned calmness and then driving away with a passive face.


This happened four months back. It was around 2 in the morning and I was with another friend, a girl, both returning from a nightclub in the suburbs. Somewhere along Powai, my friend noticed this guy on the bike who had been trying to stay as close to us for over a couple of kilometers. He kept looking at us, veering the bike from one side to the other, trying to say something. We tried to ignore and then suddenly he started gesticulating. I didn’t slow down the car for quite a long stretch on the Eastern Express highway, but when we crossed Mulund, he came awfully close to my window and kept pointing at the back door.


Finally, I rolled down the window and he said,


“The back door is open.”


“I don’t think so, but thank you.”


I started rolling up the window and then suddenly he goes,


“Do you want some entertainment?”


“No, thank you.”


Yeah, go ahead and say it. I know it was pretty dumb to stop in the middle of the night and hear him out. I also realized later that he could’ve been armed or could’ve tried something more dangerous than just asking that ludicrous question. I also know that it’s not as safe as we presume Mumbai to be. Yes, it’s far better than most other cities, but that’s about it.


A girl, a woman will always need to be on her guard wherever she is. Watchful and wary of all shadows, human or machine that may crop up in proximity out of the blue.



This brings to my mind another incident that happened to me and the same friend as we were on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, on our way to meet a common friend. At seven on a Saturday morning, when were busy admiring the tranquility and the beautiful drive to Pune, suddenly an Indigo comes right in front of us and slows down. I was rudely hauled out of my reverie to brake abruptly to avert banging into that car. Those of you have been on the expressway know it’s an incredible 3-lane and one can jolly well attach loyalty to one lane and still ride the thrill of a sexy drive.


I tried to switch over to left and then speed up. They followed. Loyally. I slowed down and trailed on the other lane. They switched lanes and were back in front of us, driving at an aberrant speed of less than 40 km/hour on the expressway. After a while, the two on the back seat actually sat facing us and leaned out of their windows to throw offhand remarks to us that were lost, courtesy the rolled up windows and the music. This went on for almost an hour and there appeared no channel to funnel off those guys.


And then I could endure no more. The speedometer dangerously hovered at 120 and I could almost sense my Alto looking at me uncertainly. But it meekly kept shut and went along with me, like one of those girls who cower when they’ve been tossed a vulgar remark while walking next to an angry, helpless father or brother. As if they somehow were instrumental in soliciting an unwelcome crude remark or an atrociously vulgar gesture.


I sped and when they stepped callously on their gas pedal and zipped straight ahead of me, I slowed down and parked on the left for a good 10 minutes. Along with water we gulped down disconcerting thoughts that maybe we were human magnets for undesired attention on the roads. After a while, we both concluded that we weren’t and that in an incomprehensible, eccentric way, it had to be some inherent deformity in most male psyche that derives distorted pleasure in battering women. Mentally or physically, preferably both.




I’m trying hard, really hard not to recall the times when I saw flashes of white rage as somebody just walked past me, “accidentally” touching or brushing against parts of my body. Those “inadvertent” caresses that send yarns of fury, tripping, coiling around my raging blood. Or, when from across the street or right next to me, they leered and leched, shamelessly undressing me without my permission.


I’m making a serious effort to keep my blood pressure under control, even though the mere recall makes me want to choke those mutherfuckers to death.


It’s weird how almost always realizations strike us after the incident has taken place. Women today are far more prudent and I always presumed so was I. But in retrospect, it turns out that it’s very simple and human as well, to keep all caution signs aside and just act on impulse.


BUT, let’s NOT do that. Please. Let’s not throw caution to wind.


For your loved ones and most importantly for yourself, please stay safe!


Remember: A hard dick has no conscience.


*Note: How ironical that even the filthiest of all abuses for men go back and hit the women!

- Action Hero Blue Athena

Silent Streets

I realize its not just the street , it’s the workplace, the mode of transport.. I wont ask you about public space. About viewing public space as largely male. I will ask you if I accept that public space is largely male then what part of it is female. If you draw a boundary and I accept it , I still have the right to know what you have enclosed in and what u have excluded.


For once I don’t want to ask you what you think of me , how you have no qualms about objectifying me etc. I want to ask nothing. I want to be silent. Like I always am , when you stare, when you decide what I wear, when you molest. Like when you call all of it eve teasing and laugh it off.


Its not about me taking protest marches, its about all the others being silent about it. Its about accepting what you have decided for me silently.


- Action Hero Bohemebelle

Do you think, maybe, you did something to bring this on?

This post was supposed to be part of the Blank Noise Project Blogathon but I am a day late so I decided to just write the post anyway. As a woman whose best friend was sexually molested at the age of six by someone was trusted by her parents, this topic is something that bothers me a whole lot. This post is for my dearest friend and all the women who are not safe from lecherous bastards either at home or in public.

I lived most of my life in Thane a city that was originally a suburb of Bombay but now has grown to be a pretty big city in it's own right. Back when I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, it was a very safe city for women. The only real eve teasing I ever experienced was getting whistled at and shouted at by buses filled with blue collar workers who were going home after their shift. It used to be a weird experience of having all these old men, definitely old enough to be my father, some of them even my grandfather, yelling obscenities at me. But travelling by train, even though I travelled by the ladies compartment, exposed me to the world of groping ass%^$&s. The first time I was too bewildered to react but after that every time anyone tried to touch me got beat up. Once I chased a guy down the length of the station intending to hand him over to the cops. And when I stood up for myself, I found support in the crowd. There were usually 2/3 guys willing to help slap the guy around and quite a few women encouraging me.

On a trip to Khandala during the monsoon, with my all-girls school I nearly saw and was part of a gang-rape. That we escaped was due to the fast talking of my teachers and the fact that the would-be rapists were too drunk. We were trekking to the dam in the rain, singing Girl Guiding songs when we realised that there were hundreds of cars, full of drunken guys, ogling us, yelling at us .... You see, this was Independence Day (oh, the irony of it!) and so all the rich louts had driven down from Bombay, Pune, etc. They were sitting in this massive traffic jam and what better way to pass time besides leching at 14-15 year old girls? Since we had come more than half the way from our campsite and half the class were already at the dam, we continued the trek. Albeit in grim silence and with out belts (which had big metal buckles and could hurt when swung hard enough) in our hands. When we got to the dam and met the rest of the class, it was awful. Most of them had been groped and grabbed, they were terrified and crying. We decided to send them back in the van and walk back ourselves. As the van left, we found ourselves (about 60 girls and 2 teachers) surrounded by about 150 "men". They were so drunk that most of them could only leer blearily at us but there was a small but significant minority who were not drunk enough to pass out but just enough to lose their moral compasses and could have incited a mass rape. Getting away, with our teachers begging them - tumhari behene jaisi hain etc etc and that trek back was the scariest 2 hours of my life. But the only thing that I feel proud about is that I gave at least 3/4 guys a sharp knock with my belt buckle when they tried to touch me or the girls around me.

Even in sleepy old Trivandrum, this was in the late 80's, my 8 year old sister was approached by a travelling salesman and shown pornographic books. When she said she didn't want any and tried to go away, he kept trying to ask her to see more until she finally ran home. In Madras, my cousin sister told me she never travelled by public bus or argued with auto-rickshaw drivers and never ever would she report anyone to a cop, because as she put it, the thing they will say would make you want to die.

But of all these experiences, I would rank the 1.5 months I spent at Allahabad as the absolute worst. This is (or at least was in 1997) a city where any woman walking alone was a target. Where you were stripped by men's eyes at every chauraha, where a Professor's wife told me she never travels outside the research institute's colony alone - at the very least she would take her 5 year son along. The fact that she belongs to a man (her mangalsutra & very prominent bindi) and has a son keeps her safe! Where a woman dressed completely from head to toe in a salwar kameez and dupatta can feel unclean and undressed and a man on a motorcycle and bicycle can and will swerve to touch you and no woman will attempt to fightback.

I think to me that is the scariest part - not that men routinely whistle, yell obscenties, lech, grope or grab but that there are several parts of this country where when you fight back, you will not get any support. You will not be allowed to fight back. Where the patriarchy reigns supreme and women are chattel who will mouth lines like "woh toh ladka hai, lekin tum toh samajhdaar ho, tumko salika aana chahiye" (transalated " boys will be boys, but women should be sensible & behave modestly).

I dedicate this post to the hope of a day when women will rountinely fight back and dress as they like and not give in to these creeps. And for the day when the men AND other women around them stand up for the victim. No one will ever ask the question that is the title of this blog.


- Action Hero Bombayite

Street harassment and me.

I don’t know to write essays on the topic of Street Harassment. I ll let my own experience speak.


The earliest experience that I can remember very clearly and has been haunting me forever was on a train. I was walking with my dad while my sis and mom were coming behind. We were walking on the train to get to our seats. A man who was walking towards us bumped on me, put his hand inside my top and groped my breasts. I was 13. I was wearing a white salwar with tiny pink flowers printed on them. I was too shocked to react and the man was gone by the time I came to my sense. Welcome to the world of perverts!


The three years I studied in Trichy was hell. I was groped, pinched, slapped behind, touched or the least teased almost everyday. I can write a book about it. I would say Coimbatore is a heaven compared to Trichy or Chennai. In my personal experience that is! To each to their own. I would really want to know why these men behave the way they do. Most definitely they have a mother and perhaps a sister at home. Or at least cousins. I can’t believe they will marry one day, have a family and be a responsible person. And lets not even get to the topic of old perverts. They just make me plain sick.


I went to the RK Hospital in Bangalore 4 years back for a medical check up. A chest x-ray was taken. There was a man in that big lab and while I stood with my chest pressed to the machine, he came behind me and told me he had to adjust a little. When I said ok, he put both his hands on my breasts and adjusted them! Whoa! I was shivering. I was wearing the skimpy hospital gown with nothing underneath. I did nt know what to do. I did nt even note down the assholes name. I am stupid, I know. I came out very angry and spoke to the girl who had her x-ray taken before me. She said she went in with her mom (smart move!) but even she felt a little scared about that guy. I have not felt that violated even when I got my first pap smear in a strange country by a strange man speaking a strange language. There’s always a female nurse with you all the time when a male doctor is examining you there. I can’t tell you how safe it makes you feel.


The worst thing about all this harassment is that it follows you home and screws up your life. I am in a bad mood for days; I pick up a fight on the drop of a hat with people at home. I want them to understand even without me telling them what happened. I am afraid they will call me stupid for not having reacted. I am angry with my parents for not keeping me safe from these animals. I want them to listen to every whim of mine because I think they owe me for making me go through this shit. I hate them for being irresponsible. I hate men. I am always suspicious about men. Now that I have a daughter, I am going to be paranoid all my life. Welcome to the world of perverts, kiddo.


And this is the first time I am talking about the harassment loudly. Telling your mother/sister/friend that you were pinched in your inner thigh today by an asshole on the bus is not easy. Believe me, its not easy. Especially when you are 15 years old. So I welcome projects like Blank Noise. Heres to safer streets!


ps. The two years I lived in the UK and another two years in Switzerland, I did nt have one experience of street harassment.


pps. And all the nice men out there who are really hurt that women are always suspicious about every man, stop being a whiner! Would you rather get hurt by getting pinched in your non-existent breasts? Please! Don't make this "your" issue


- Action Hero Boo


The eve-teaser sings on the road, a song dedicated to a fifteen year old. She walks faster, as if chased by an invisible ghost (her dignity), and merges into heap of scooters, cows and cars. She is now invisible to him, to herself, and she wishes to remain so. For the next ten years at least, and then she will bear two children, and no one teases an Aunty.


- Action Hero BridalBeer

Blank Noise

Today on the way to work I was as usual listening to Radio City… There was this interview with a creater of an organization called “Blank Noise Project“. The project seeks to recognize eve teasing as a sexual crime and establish the issue as something that may be normal, but is unacceptable.


Today March 7th 2006 the site is organizing a Blog-o-thon, where people talk about eve teasing in their blogs and let people know what they feel… The event is a huge success and its amazing how common this problem is…


Frankly only today I realized the depth of the snake pit and reading some of the entries I was saddened at the state of affairs and the way we treat women in our country. Read it your self to discover the thoughts in a woman’s mind and when she feels threatened.


Its a sad thing that in a country that can make its own nuclear weapons almost half the population hv to live in the fear of the other half.


As for how to stop the injustice… Making every man to realize the error of his ways seems ideal but lets not get carried away that will not be happening this week… The idea of carrying pepper sprays ect seems like a good idea, the system looks like its working in other continents(America).


I am throughly impressed by the quality of work these people have put up and Kudos to their effort…


- Action Hero Haas

Romeo and Eve on blank noise

Blank Noise has the blog-a-thon 2006 going, inviting stories and thoughts from people about the problem of street harassment. People, because men need to speak out on this as much as women do.


I was waiting to attend the Blank Noise meet in Bombay before I posted on this. Some thoughts from there. The idea behind Blank Noise is to raise awareness among people that we need to Say NO to street harrassment, it is not okay to harass or be harassed, even in the name of fun. It is not okay to encroach upon a woman’s personal space, in the name of checking her out or appreciating beauty. No, it is not okay when the woman feels uncomfortable by this.


So what is harassment? And what is not?


So where do we draw the line and say this is okay and this is not? Start with looking at the innocuous name given to such harassment in India - eve teasing. Uh? teasing? The unemployed Rmeo whistles at the girl, sings lewd songs at her, and in the next scene fades out with the girl and the guy singing lewd songs tgether, declaring their undying love for each other? Nope, Eve and Romeo… doesn’t work that way.


One of the things Blank Noise wants to do first is to understand exactly what constitutes harassment. Please leave your thoughts on this here and spread the word around. Eve teasing to me means blank


Activism is such a dirty word?


It is alright to write about it but getting down to the streets where the harassment actually takes place is not so easy for everyone. You do not have to stand in the streets and ask people questions and hand out pamphlets. be your own activist - when you see a woman get harassed, take some action. Show your support in some way. And if you want to be involved in blank noise, please get in touch with Jasmeen right away.


But what can I do about it?


I agree often there isn’t much you can do about it - in a crowded space, it is sometimes difficult to even tell who pinched or groped. But when you do know, then make a scene. Ask him ‘why are you staring a me’? I have tried this and it works. It sends the “teaser” into a tizzy. Shout if in a public place and get the attention of others.


And if you feel physically feel violated in any way, first get this clear - you are not responsible for it. It is not about the way you smile or the clothes you are wearing - it is about the fact that you are a woman and you happen to be there. I don’t know if this is supposed to make one feel better or worse, it is not about you - it could have been any woman there and then.


All that I have written, I have faced, and thought about.


And the stories….


As Annie said, karoge yaad toh har baat yaad aayegi. It just needs one person to start talking about it and then suddenly every woman has her own story to share.


After all these years, I still get disturbed when I think about this - and I do often. Twelve years old and in a crowded temple on a festival way. And a man squeezed my breasts from behind. hard, so hard that I shouted out. But I had nothing to say when my aunt asked me what had happened. And I saw the man. I saw him again and again. I saw the leer on his face. And I saw him come towards me a second time, and it happened a second time. And I saw him walk away. And I came home and cried unconsolably.


I am shaking with anger as I write this. What breasts does a twelve year old have, you bastard? I have noticed that I still instinctively cover my chest if I sense a stranger come too close to me, and if I am not wearing a dupatta. And I have not mentioned this to anyone in my life till now.


Walking to class at 16. Passing through a house where four teengae boys sang dirty songs every single day. Till I snapped one day. That night, they came to my house drunk and made a scene infrnt of the gate. Neighbors watching in avid curiosity, and supportive parents who threatened to cal the police. The next morning, my dad and I went to the house; the boy’s father as a well known physiotherapist, and compalined about him. The boy’s mother advised my dad to keep his girl under control. They did not sing from the next day, but I didn’t feel good about that “victory”…


And then driving classes at 19. And the scent of the male instructor as he leaned over my neck teaching me to reverse the car. That nauseous smell of coconut oil, mixed with sweat and what, lust? I snapped at him after three days and demanded a woman instructor. And he failed me in my preliminary driving test before going to the RTO. I don’t drive to this day.


Related : my earlier post on


- Action Hero Charukesi

I never ask for it - Blank Noise

It was always a feeling of shame. Shame that when 14, a passing cyclist grabbed me. Shame that in the school bus, the driver always fiddled with the rearview mirror so he could look at my chest. Shame that men leered with smug smiles when I walked past. Or tried to brush up against me. Shame because I felt it happened only to me and only because there was something wrong with the way I looked or dressed or walked or talked or was. Something wrong - terribly, terribly so - with me.


And the only reaction seemed to be silence. Because confrontation might lead to attention being drawn to a dirty experience I wanted to keep secret. Because speaking out meant acknowledging that something was wrong when I could cloak it.


I don't know exactly when silence turned into anger into indignation and then confrontation. Perhaps when I was forced out of my cocooned world of being accompanied and driven around into the rush of public transport, government offices, the streets and the slums. Perhaps when a man pushed his crotch against my back in a crowded bus. Perhaps when I saw that most women sat with their bags held tight against their chests in autos. Or, perhaps when I learnt that a friend, too, was grabbed.


Now, the shame is gone but the scabs remain. I don't pick at them because there is no point. What I can do now is know that I never ask for it. That no woman does. That my body is my space and when you lech or whistle or grope or leer or ogle or grab, you abuse it. And that it's not okay.


So what it takes now is one question - Why are you looking at me?

 - Action Hero Chinmayee Manjunath

Which way are you goin'

Over this past week, consequent to the blogathon, I have begun to ponder over issues that I had never really considered in the past.


For instance, does being a part of the Blank Noise Project automatically make me a feminist? What is feminism in our times? We've come past the suffragettes, we've come past the bra-burning stage but women are still oppressed and they are still fighting glass ceilings.


I came across the Wikipedia definition, which I feel is broadbased and quite comprehensive. And I can apply 'a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation' to my own involvement with Blank Noise Project. I did join the project to be a part of something that, ultimately, aims to create a legal space for sexual crimes that have been trivialised too much, for too long. Anyhow. This is something I shall have to grapple with for a while, I think.


While reading the blogathon posts, I came across this one, which included a response to a comment I had sent Jasmeen before joining the core team and she decided to post it on the blog.


It may be a bit late to, and maybe I need not, but let me clarify.


No, just checking out a woman does not amount to street harassment, or eve teasing, if you will. Certainly not. In that post, I wrote - 'you do not have the right to stare at my body and imagine what I look like, naked'. And I meant that because how often have women been subjected to long, leering, lecherous stares that make you want to go home and take a very hot bath?


I did not mean to 'make even decent men, who may steal a glance or two, feel like a serial rapist who has “defiled their soul” by virtue of their glances. The contention that looks leave scars on a womans mind is, well, overstating the case'.


Indeed, I rest my case at the mention of the word 'glance'. And calling decent men serial rapists is also overstating the case. I don't think we've ever done that or ever intend to, at Blank Noise.


In fact, one of the major tasks we have is to define street harassment. When does a look cross the line into being a scarring leer? How do we define this adequately enough to not have to argue all the time?


- Action Hero Chinmayee Manjunath

I am....

I am a woman


“no ur not…ur justa girl”

“ur a girl..behave like one”

“gosh u look like a boy”


I have a face


“ur so cute”

“colgate smile”

“ewww..metal mouth!”

“nice nose”

“u have a funny nose”

“your skull has a weird shape”

“nice thick hair”

“madam your hair needs to be smoothened. You could also try L’Oreal’s latest hair colour”

I have a body


“hey miss matchstick”

“nice ass”

“did he say ‘nice ass’ to you…hahaha…where is me!!!”

“he grabbed your ass???? On the streets! Wtf!”

“girl…men wont give a damn unless you have big boobs!”

“snigger are u anorexic?..snigger snigger”

" look like a french model!”


I wear clothes


“ur skinny, u can pull anything off.”

“please don’t ever wear a sari till you put on some weight!”

“oh my god..that cb bitch…what kinda clothes does she wear?”

"wow...nice clothes!"

“if u wear t-shirts like will attract unwanted attention. So stop making a big deal

about harassment in the workplace”

“u look so sweet in shorts..wish I had the guts to wear them!”

“what, you left your dupatta at home?”


I hate dupattas…they are potential killers


“yeah u say that cos u aint graceful enuff to carry it off”

“they are lajja vastras..don't you know??”


I hate duppattas even more….




I believe in God


“U cannot go to the temple if you have your periods”

“Navarathri is a celebration of shakti…of the ardhanareshwari”

“how can they emulate Krishna..such a flirt!”

“that they made Sita do an agneepareeksha..”

“Sita needed the lakshman Rekha to stay within her limits”


God has created me - a beautiful wonderful woman


“hey ugly”

“she called you ugly? Don’t feel bad…have u not heard the story of the ugly duckling?”

“hey beautiful”

“pretty boy!”

“you are beautiful…and I love you”

“hi sexy”

“I used to think ur pretty, now I only see you as someone really smart."



“happy puppy”



I am….what I am…


As for what you say, I really don't give a damn!

I am me, constant self

I am me, ever changing self.

This article was composed for the blank noise blogathon, but please note that only certain parts of it deal with harassment. Its more about being a woman, reflecting on womanhood, the good times, the bad times, the uncomfortable times, the soft, the sweet, the rough…. but more importantly, it's a celebration of womanhood, to take in the smirks and the smiles, the punches and the caresses, the colours and contrasts, and continue to love every single moment of being a woman.

Happy Women’s day!


- Action Hero Trauma Queen

A few faint scars

Thanks to this initiative, this post is about eve-teasing. There have been times when I did wonder whether I would be able to address this issue with as much clarity as it is happening around. I hope that this is a right step taken in this direction....


I was familiar with eve-teasing – and every time I used to ignore the sly whispers or the raucous shouts. Unke koi maa behen hoti nahin hain kya - I stopped wondering about that long back when I realised that for some men, women are nothing more than mere ojbects - that too of the use-and-throw variety.I gyuess it is just a mode of sadistic pleasure for them. "Why should I react?" - was my mode of reasoning! But then, it had not yet taken a turn for worse......


AA and I were in the habit of talking long walks in the evening – something which I miss at times (especially the company). Recalling this incident, I can place the time to somewhere around 7:00 at a deserted road in our area. AA and I were walking along this road in deep discussion about some subject when I noticed a lone cyclist cycling leisurely towards us.


I would not have paid him much attention except for the fact that he brushed a bit too close for our comfort. I yelled back at him. To our shock, he wheeled back and came right at us. Before I could even regret what I had done, he pulled my plait hard (enough to bring tears to my eyes) and vanished. AD and I were too stunned to react. Here we were – two young girls – totally helpless and at a loss as to what to do next. Nothing had prepared us for this eventuality.

Needless to say, we seldom frequented that particular stretch after this incident.


Even after so many years, I still remember the sense of guilt - it was my reaction which involved AA in this mess right - and the sense of loathing - how could I allow this to happen?


But there are times, while walking across this stretch, that I wonder – what if I had remained silent, what if he had done something more than just pulling my hair? Would I have remained a mute spectator to the events? Where should I draw the line? And at whose risk?


Never (again) would I pray for a repeat just to seek these answers......



But still some questions remain - react to, respond to or ignore eve-teasing?


- Action Hero Chitra

Grit your teeth.

Grit your teeth. Look busy. Pretend to talk on the phone. Frown. Look into the distance as though you cant really register your surroundings (and yet you have never been more aware of them). This is pretty much the best way to deal with the sly calls, the whistles, the cars slowing down. The scooters that stop uncomfortably close to where you are standing on the road.


But if the threat grows, if your space is invaded to a point where you cant breathe - pick up a rock. It has worked for me for many years… because they mostly don’t want their faces smashed. Or their cars spoiled. Or their helmets damaged. And of course... last but not the least - resort to actual physical violence when you cant take it at all...


I have to admit that the choking "after" feeling is something that I have not managed to work on. I still get chokey. I still clench my fists. I still get hot tears behind my eyes. And none of it is my fault. The feeling of helplessness is often mindnumbing. The anger is too much to take. There is no outlet. Then sometimes it explodes.


A few years ago, I was on a shoot. In Old Delhi. Need I mention - covered from head to toe. There was nothing even remotely sexy / alluring / attractive about me. I was running after my cameraman through the narrow lanes and suddenly I felt my butt being grabbed. Not too hard. But more than just a brush. I stopped running. I stopped breathing. There was a buzzing in my ear. I turned around and there was a man walking away from me to a tea stall. I calmly followed him and with the edge of the two beta tapes in my hand started hitting him between his shoulder blades (anyone who has had training from older brothers knows that this is a sensitive spot). I couldn’t stop till my cameraman came from the back and held my hands and told me to calm down and get away from there. A crowd had gathered. Not for me. For him. He was asking me over and over again, “What did I do? What did I do?” I couldn’t speak. Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. You touched me. Just now. Then yesterday and the day before that and last year. And when I was in school. when I was at the market.... you violated my space. My dignity. You made me feel dirty. Cheap. Low. So, so helpless.


Was it wrong of me to take out my frustration on him for all the other times as well? I dont know. Did the hitting make me feel good? I am not sure. ‘Cause it was not enough. It was not enough ‘cause it did not leave me with the strength to do it again. And again. And again.


Being on edge all the time can be tiring. But then that is what you need. To survive. Because you are a woman.


- Action Hero D

The actual post

Allow me to start from the end...


Apologies for the philosophical sidenote, I hate transposing reality into the academic realm... It makes everything too detached, too convenient and ready for dissection... But a number of events in my life have made me appreciate those white, old/dead, Eastern European male writers A LOT. Damit, they were right when they wrote about that duality between existence as a subjct and an object. The border between the two clings to us all like clothing, and shines like an ill aura when a woman walks down any public space. To you I am an object, viewed from the clothing outward. Voiceless, mindless... And I must say that as hard as I have tried - the louder I scream and flail my arms... I just become a very animated object, the subject behind it as invisible to you as the real body I guard under the clothing that separates you from me. An approppriate dose of stubborn dehumanisation makes anything acceptable, doesn't it?


At the age of 12, anything new feels good if it’s introduced gently. As you, girl, proudly begin to witness the appearance of the curves you’ve so been waiting for, it’s nice to know others are taking notice. Recall how many vacuous moments were filled laying your eyes upon the changing shadows of the flowing fabrics passing you by, recall the many ways you wondered if your shirts would someday crease in that fashion, the hem of your skirt bounce to that rhythm. Knowing that others could possibly look to you with such wonder in their eyes… it made you walk a little taller, each step a little more accented so as to lend grace to your newly-rounded angles.


And then the eyes stopped being silent and as you grew the words they sent your way grew up too. Into more ‘adult’ words, to suit the thoughts your now-adult body made legitimate; taking advantage of the license it gave them. You let your body talk that way – let me answer with the words it’s been asking me for.


Screw the childhood, forget about any illusions of gentle appreciative stares, you’re almost thirteen now. Welcome to the real world.


In the mall my booty was ghetto and appreciated in packs – at times I had trouble distinguishing what scores they were referring to because I knew their jerseys had won the night before. Throughout Europe I was worth a whistle, in Cuba a click accompanied by sustained eye contact. I averted my eyes and turned back once at a safe distance – the eyes would still be looking, stray dogs gathering around them hoping food was the reward for answering the call.


On Guy or Crescent they were Arabic and Greek and Italian words I wish I didn’t know, and whispered promises in passing - I will… I could… You make me…


In Morocco the echo of a compliment resonated through a souk – Why thank you, I DO find my pussy quite sexy, I’m happy the feeling is mutual. When the group of people I had met at the conference that had brought me in the Maghreb came together for dinner that evening - a bunch of young women and men from around the globe - we couldn't help but compete over our day's experiences of street harassement, laughing about getting our breasts and behinds groaped. We - the girls - shrugged our shoulders and blamed culture shock, while the boys sat in shock and dismay at our ease with letting it all slide. Culture shock, really? You're going to let them because they're different? Yes, yes I will because I refuse to believe it has anything to do with ME, it has to do with what they see when they look my way.


In the Village they came in the early morning, when the butches were recruiting and the fags were touchy – I think it had something to do with insecurity and power. Or blood-alcohol content. Or something. Because there was always an obvious attempt at courage in their voice – in all their voices, their whistles, their clicks. It’s not because I want you, it’s because I can. I can make you react, know your place, remind you of mine. Over and over and over again.


In Japan it’s a polite side glance accompanied by a sneer, alternating between myself and the manga on his knees. I cannot help but wonder if I become the girl on the page – the look towards either being equally empty, the assessment quickly consumed and disposed of. I haven't had a run-in with those famed chikan yet. Count yourself lucky.


In the Philippines my sister and I were always accompanied – by my father, my cousins, a ten-year-old acquaintance – anything with the proverbial balls we physically lack. It was my father’s first encounter with emasculation, as he cannot help but feel what my sister and I feel… The men directing their thoughts about us towards him did not help him in his attempt to ignore the stares that weighed on our pale shoulders.


You shouldn’t keep such beauty all to yourself, sir.


He wanted to puke.


You’re a lucky man, walking with such gorgeous things. Are you their father? Why, you’re an artist, sir.


I was used to it by that point, ten years had passed since I turned 12. But my heart broke when I saw his shoulders hunch a little lower and his eyes lose a little more pride with each fleeting comment. I knew what he wanted to answer…


Yes, I’m responsible for the entire shell, but you should see how I helped them decorate the interior – doesn’t that matter too?


I have walked alongside boys and men who have gotten angrier than I have at the knowledge of what populates my daily walks. Once at our destination, safely sheltered from their glances and their sounds, these boys and men ask me how and why I take it, why I don’t answer back.


All I can offer them is ‘What am I supposed to do? Stop and school each one?’


Frankly, I simply take comfort in knowing that while they’re standing, sitting, or taking their time wandering the same city block waiting for myself and women like me to pass by… we’re actually steady going places with a mind uncluttered by the delivery of the next inconsequential one-liner.

- Action Hero Dancing Chaos


Eve teasing. What we CAN do about it.

Every city in this country has its horror stories: The recent rape of a college girl in Mumbai by a city policeman in broad daylight on Marine Drive; Seema Shah’s death in Chennai at the hands of a bunch of eve teasers in an auto; well chronicled and endless outrages in Delhi, including a girl at a bus stop dragged by her hair for a distance by a motor bike riding eve teaser because she wouldn’t respond to his dumb comments.


What is it with our society that encourages ‘eve teasers’? To begin, with the place of women in society. Where a large section of the population considers them ‘inferior' to men. Its not just a socio-cultural phenomenon, but goes deeper into how women have been exploited to ‘keep them in their place’. Then it’s the unnatural segregation of the sexes in many cities in schools, colleges and even social functions. So that boys and girls don’t know how to interact naturally with each other. And worse, have no decent opportunity to do so.


Most of all, it’s the lack of proper values instilled in families in their children about respecting the sexes as equal. But then, if the social fabric is flawed with regard to the sexes, what can you expect? Especially when you have middle class ‘respectable’ fathers who become groping octopuses on Delhi buses. Which brings us back to the question, if the problem is so large, what can we do about it? Why do so many women suffer the indignity & ignominy of eve teasing in our cities?


It’s because no one around them rises to their aid. It’s ridiculous but true. Eve teasers know that what they are doing is not acceptable. They have wives, daughters, sisters and cousins like anyone else. You think they’d do the same to them? No way! They’d kill anybody who tried. Yet, because nobody around them comes to the help of the victim, they continue to prey on them. Take the recent case of a plucky Chennai girl who dared to retort to an eve teaser with a group of boys harassing her at a popular Chennai theatre.


She verbally put him in his place. Incensed (I suppose his ‘manhood’ was affronted), the eve teaser attacked her. He slapped her first, then punched her a few times in the stomach. What did the other movie goers at the theatre do? (Mind you, the place was packed). Nothing. Everyone discreetly looked the other way. Why would not eve teasers continue to do what they want then? After all, society doesn’t protest. And by virtue of this silence, gives them leave and license to continue to do what they do.


Come on, people of India. Stop clucking about how bad it is. Get a backbone, and next time you see something that’s not acceptable, step right up and confront the eve teaser. Since they already know what they’re doing is not acceptable, they will back down. Not if the victim protests, because it’s a power thing with a victim, but if others around raise their voices in protest. I know, I’ve done it many times. You don’t even have to speak. Sometimes all you have to do is walk in between the eve teaser and the victim, and give him a forbidding stare.


Let me share something with you. When I was in the first year in college, I had to take a long bus ride to get there. The bus passed the Holy Angels Convent girls school in Chennai. Many of the school’s students used to be on the bus. So were a horde of young men who felt they were fair game. They used to move through the bus to try and position themselves next to one of these pretty, innocent young things so they could get up against them for cheap thrills. I would move in such a way that I would get between them and the girls so they couldn’t reach them.


If they tried pushing past, I’d shove them right back with a steely stare. Over a period of time, the girls sensed what was going on. And if they saw me on the bus, they ensured that they were close to where I was so that they felt protected. None of those eve teasers, and there were many of them over time, dared do anything when they saw there was some one to watch out for these girls. I never spoke to any of the girls, but they understood and appreciated what I was doing. They would look at me and smile their thanks as they got off the bus at the Holy Angels stop. That’s all the thanks I needed. After all, they could’ve been my kid sisters. (I never had one).


Is that so hard to do? Think about it. And the next time you see some one teasing a girl, speak up, or get between the teaser and the teased and put a stop to it. I would. I would even go so far as to clout the guy if he deserved it. Like the one who punched the girl at the cinema. Believe me, the rest of the crowd would rally around. So let’s take on the eve teasers in the world around us. Rather than just bemoan what’s going on. For the answer lies with you. And me.


- Action Hero David