Law Experts In Dhaka

Eve teasing

Introduction

Harassment is a common problem of women across the world that they are facing now-a- days. In the South Asian context the archaic term ‘eve-teasing’ is employed to describe such harassment. However as Bangladesh’s high court recently ruled, the term downplays the seriousness of such crimes. The court said this in response to a class action lawsuit filed by legal activists after a number of teenaged women committed suicide, reportedly due to stalking and harassment. Police would often dismiss such crimes as innocent mischief caused by young men. The court ordered that incidents of harassment should not be referred to as eve-teasing anymore and should be termed sexual harassment. The court has taken a wise step because the euphemism hides the severity of the crime by attaching a romantic label to it. The fact is that harassment is harassment. Of course, we, in Bangladesh are no strangers to the harassment of women, especially in public places such as markets, offices and public transport. Such behavior can range from constant unwanted ogling to much worse. Because of such negative attitudes- women are not comfortable in public places in this country and hence barely visible in some areas.

Some example of ‘eve teasing’

November 1, 2010, Rupali Rani of Bogra, who was a student of class ix, hanged herself from a ceiling beam after stalker[1] Sushil Shil, kidnapped her and kept her confined in a room of his residence in Sirajgonj. Sushil forcefully put vermillion on her forehead to imply that she was married to him according to the Hindu custom. Shushil had been harassing Rani with unwelcome advances on her way to and from school and the coaching centre over the last few months. Recently a number of girls have been the victims of eve-teasing in Bangladesh. The unhappy girls resorted to suicide in a bid to end the mental pangs they suffered as a result of perverts’ verbal and behavioral abuses. They took the extreme decision.

Eve teasing being as an attempt to irritate a girl or catch her attention a lewd stare, a sly whistle, a well-timed lap, an unwarranted bump, a seemingly causal touch, a lingering look at a vulnerable time, the humming of suggestive song, passing downright uncouth comment, cheap gestures, display of indecent snaps or videos, giving “unwelcome call”, sending indecent text all these are typical examples of eve teasing.[2]

Although the term “eve teasing” originates from India, in recent times, this voice has spread over all the sub-continental countries. Eve teasing was not that acute problem in Bangladesh till 1980s, when girls and women, especially at rural areas started going out for education and employment at a large scale, eve teasing with its sharp jaws has started to pollute our social fabric.

Present Condition of Eve Teasing In Bangladesh

Eve teasing is rising both in number, recklessness and ferocity. Parents and guardians are passing days in great anxiety for the safety and well-being of the young women under their charge. Civilized life and living in the country is being challenged by the depraved and brutal behavior of eve teasing. Figures released by the Ain-O-Salish Kendra (ASK) human right organization reveal that 62% of the school girls become victims of eve teasing. According to the information of “Mohila Porishad” eve teasing has increase by 39.6% compared to the last year.[3]

Cases of eve teasing are shooting up alarmingly. Apart from suicide, one statistics has revealed that during January-July 2010 period only, about 13,000 women became victims of eve teasing of different forms across the country. This figure counted only the reported cases. Many occurrences remain unreported as the majority of the victims of eve teasing prefer to ignore this out of fear or not to be ‘disgraced’ or part of a social ‘gossip’. The situation has become so alarming that, in general, it can be argued that at present no girl has been spared from being a victim of eve teasing in one from to another.[4]

In recent days, some who have spoken out against sexual harassment have been murdered. A 50- year –old women died after a motorcycle was driven over her when she protested against the bullying of her daughter last week. A college teacher who spoke out against such bullying was also murdered. Everywhere the pattern is the same. Simi of Charukola, Fahima of Mirpur, and many other girls, students, workers and slum dweller- were found to have been preyed upon by depraved and brutalized males while the state – society –took all for granted, as it were.[5]

Causes and Impacts of Eve teasing

The main reason behind the increasing numbers of cases on eve teasing is the down gradation of our cultural of our cultural outlook towards female. The morale and mentality of the young people have changed. Our education has no moral stint, our religious exercises become ritualistic, society is becoming more materialistic and our politics is not bound by ethics. As female gender is considered the fairer and the weaker sex, they are considered more vulnerable. Especially in places like us which is having a male-dominated society. It is in fact a way of showing male’s superiority over females.[6]

Our culture is fast losing it’s identity and our media is more to please the teens than to depict the reality and truth of life. Also, being a suppressed lot, females generally don’t always raise their voices against such harassment, which makes the males bolder in their approaches. Due to social stigma for a girl, less and less cases are reported. Another reason is the old laws existing over eve-teasing. First of all, the corruption doesn’t catch the real culprits, with they being let off on may be a small favor or money. Even if they are caught, law doesn’t have stringent punishments for them. There are enough loopholes to go scot-free. There have been very few convictions in such cases.[7] Lack of education is also a contributing factor to such a menace. Illiterate and uneducated people consider this as their birthright and see nothing wrong in it. They are unaware of the trauma of the girl who faces such harassment. But one wonders then what happens in the metro cities, good educational institutions etc. Incidents in such places make people wonder whether education contributes to controlling such a problem.

Conclusion

In a country where the prime minister, foreign minister, agriculture minister, deputy leader of the House and the leader of the opposition are female, it is very hard to believe that in that country women and girls cannot walk on the streets, use public transport, or go to school, shops, parks or other public places without often being ogled, taunted, harassed, humiliated, sexually molested, groped and assaulted and in some cases, attacked with acid, abducted and raped. The situation is very frightening. The suicide of 20 girls within 1 year is an alarming sign of the times. If it is not controlled, the women can no longer live in society with any dignity. Government is recently taking some steps but proper implementation of those steps is required. Framing appropriate law to combat the ever –growing eve teasing is yet to be done. Committees are being formed in the institutions to protects the women attached to the institutions and punishment will be imposed on the persons inside the institutions, but the street Romeos, who commit their offence outside the institutions are still remain outside expected legal net. So, the enactment of an appropriate law to address eve teasing to cover the whole gamut of the problem is an unavoidable urgency. We have to mend up the society we inhabit infusing more civilized norms, preaching through education and collective exercise in practical life. After doing all of this we can expect significant decrease in the number of suicides women are committing because of eve teasing.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. “Eve teasing protirodh”, November 3,2010 prothom alo, column 8,p.1.
  2. “Eve Teasing-karon o protikar”, November 04, 2010 Amar desh, column 7,p.9
  3. “Voyaboho Porjaye Eve teasing” november 04,2010,Amar desh, column1,p.9.
  4. “PM for enacting law against eve teasing”, october 28, 2010. The financial express Bangladesh
  5. “Modhukhali” prothom alo, october 28,2010. Column 2,p.1.
  6. October 29, 2010, Prothom alo, column 5,p.1
  7. “Mass protest against eve teasing ”, October 31,2010. The financial express Bangladesh.

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[1] Stalking is a social illness like other crimes rampantly going on in the country. No law or guidelines or will help in reducing the social crimes. It is the willingness or ability of the government that is lacking.

[2] Eve teasing is a term which usually involves young men annoying or disquieting girls or women by making sexual innuendos against them in public or in work places. Eve teasing refers to any act that upset the modesty of women while in the US it is any act that is sexual in nature including gestures, words and acts that are unwelcome. Sexual harassment qualifies as an illegal form of discrimination against women in direct violation of a human right. Eve teasing is a euphemism used in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men. People found the term ‘eve teasing’ to substitute the erotic term sexual harassment. Eve is believed to be the first women created by the Almighty and all women are the descendants of her and thus generically could be called Eve. So, teasing a woman is called ‘eve teasing’.

[3] See the daily newspaper “Amar Desh” November 04, 2010, page 9, column 3

[4] How the incidents of Eve-teasing have become alarming can be gleaned only from counting the number of such incidents in the recent days and keeping a tally over a longer period. This would show the real extent of the spread of such crimes. All such incidents, on a greater scale than ever before, do only reveal police’s gross underperformance in these matters. Eve teasers do continue to oppress their victims at various places.

[5] See “Too many cases of eve teasing ” , The financial express Bangladesh , Thursday 28 2010

[6] See the weekly publication “ The star”, October 29, 2010.

[7] In post-indepent Banglash the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance (DMPO) of 1976 first addressed the women teasing directly. This is for the first time, in Bangladesh, an act other than the penal code addressed the teasing offence against women. However, the term ‘eve teasing’ is still not used. Likewise, the other metropolitan police acts/ordinances made similar provisions to penalize the offence of teasing women.

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