Sunday, January 27, 2013

Public's tolerance of eve teasing leads to rapes. But what leads to eve teasing?

The Justice J S Verma committee, which was formed to suggest ways to make rape laws stronger in India, submitted its report. A key suggestion in the report was to begin treating eve-teasing/stalking as serious non-tolerable sexual offences.

How would you react if you see a woman being 'eve-teased'?

My comment on that:
there was a time when child marriage was treated as natural. It took great efforts to drive in that it's not supposed to be tolerated; and now in many places if not all, it's not tolerated. Same thing needs to happen with eveteasing also : even if it seems "natural" to many, we will have to collectively educate ourselves and the next generation that it's NOT natural and it's not supposed to be tolerated. This is good: It shifts the focus from the victims to the aggressors. We have to target a whole generation of men and make it clear that "ab yeh nahin chelga"

See the conversation on facebook here:

And thinking about this further, my mind is throwing up visual memories: movie songs with actors (considered "heroes") plainly indulging in eve teasing and stalking... particularly grabbing by the arm, forced hugging, invading the female's personal space. And at the end of it the director makes the "heroine", instead of calling the police like she should, fall in "love" with the stalker! This same thing is repeated again and again, movie after movie, all through my childhood.

And they don't need to be latest releases : our biggest casual source of watching movies is the TV where all these movies irrespective of quality are re-run again and again and again. There's clear psychological re-inforcement happening that this is OK behaviour.

Is it a co-incidence that the present generation of young adults is the one that has watched the maximum TV? (this generation's early-teen boys came after cable TV and before internet, so has the max one-way drilling of entertainment industry's values). Could the current condition have been brought about in part by Bollywood, and by the movies which we consider safe for unlimited re-runs on our channels? And mind, to promote eve teasing behaviour one doesn't need to show sex scenes in movies (they're actually quite unrelated). The song sequence, the "ladki ko pataana", the whole tamasha is totally artificial, it sails through our censor restriction and it is what promotes eve teasing and stalking, IT promotes objectification of women. We do not see such sequences happening in our older movies.. the black-and-white ones. So the films of the Govinda generation (sorry man but your face comes squarely in my head when thinking about this), which we otherwise rate as safe for viewing by all ages, might be teaching our boys that's it's ok to eve-tease and stalk; and our girls that it's not a big deal to be teased or stalked!!

I know there's probably a lot I'm not considering here. But something is clearly showing me the links between what we see our on-screen heroes doing (who also go on to beat up the bad guys and save the day in the same movie) and what we see being done on our streets -- the general acceptance of which then encourages our men to prod even further and then commit the most ghastly of acts.

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