Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Eve Teasing..A Three Pronged Attack-Blank Noise Project

Kaveetaa kaul

This morning the topmost item on the agenda was to write on the topic as promised. Sheer force of habit led me to the papers. The following headlines caught my eye'Eve teaser shoots at lawyer trying to save kin'. This occurrence , that too , today of all days, when a marathon is in progress, a blog a thon against it.

Apparently, the said lawyer 'Meher Bhargava' acted in retaliation to four hooligans who had passed lewd comments against her daughter-in law, Kavita. She objected to their behaviour. One of them took out a country made revolver and shot her on the neck. She is presently battling for her life. Incidentally the incident occurred right outside the house of the SSP. The police stationed there did not budge, despite being witness to the happenings.

While one cannot help feeling inwardly proud of Meher, the plight she finds herself in is shameful. The incident only triggers a host of questions and responses .There seem to be so many layers to the incident, that seem intertwined, the least not being that the assailants had a criminal record , alogside political connections. Manu Sharma has been unceremoniously ostracised in his own town Chandigarh apart from the mess of a retrial and the triumph of the citizen.Don't these kind give up?

To avoid deviating from the topic of the day, however, what needs to be noted is that the average woman today has decided to fight this attack on her space, tooth and nail. In this case, Meher, was protecting her daughter-in-law, which is such refreshing news,also the fact that she must therefore have been a middle aged person if not a senior citizen. But age was not a deterrent. Kudos to her for that.

The question is 'Are we ever going to be rid of this menace?' Even if it may not get totally rooted out, Imo there is a hope that it may dwindle in occurrence in cities and metros. For this to become a reality, we women, the police and the common man have to play an interactive and complementary role.

It is indeed pitiable that we have to implore for public participation , when it should have been the bounden duty of every citizen, regardless of gender to aid a victim. I have personally been a witness to a young girl beng harassed, at a so called elitist theatre. But apart from myself and another woman, no other male chose to involve himself. I leave it to your imaginaion to fathom how that male was shamed and browbeaten at his ludicrous games. I doubt he will ever venture that sphere of activity again. On second thoughts..who knows?

It is not so much about how these men view us. It is more about how they view themselves. Lack of self esteem is the basis of the problem . No self respecting man would stoop to such behaviour. Apart from that it stems from decaying moral structure, lack of social training , emotional delinquency, illiteracy. Of course, here one is not referring to the proverbial male who has not got rid of his wolfish animalistic cloak, even after aeons of rebirths. Some just refuse to evolve.

Here I would like to aver that it would be unfair to categorise all males as suspect. There are a number of men I know who balk at the idea as much as we do and have been vocal about it in circumstances that required them to be . It seems arbitrary to consider this a male compulsion. Suffice to say that it is a menace existing in our society which needs to be dealt with urgently and stringently.

Some self righteous males, often quote the dress code of 'women today' as the sole cause.What rubbish!!Its not as if women in the days of our mother were not molested. The topic itself was so taboo, that it was hushed up in embarassed silences.The idea that a woman who dresses provocatively and therefore inviting rape or molestation, is chauvunistic to the core, and can stem only from sick minds. Freedom , when it comes to women, becomes a matter of endorsement by males, therefore conditional. Can not a woman wear what she feels like wearing?

For the same reason the burkha is the classic example to my mind of male domination. Recently we were told of a case where a woman was found running in the road at 2am ,nude. Obviously it had to be traumatic. God knows what the circumstances were. Would a male, take off his shirt to cover her, or his pant to rape her, thinking that she is asking for it?? This is what society as a whole should answer., and males in particular

The role of law enforcing agents can not be under estimated. "Spare the rod and spoil the child' a maxim if interpreted in this context would be as applicable. The fear of police punishment has proven to be efficacious. It just needs to have more teeth and less red tapism. Much ease in the process, that a victim can walk up to a police station or a cop with complete conviction that her plea will be addressed and redressed. Not in doubt, as often happens now, as to whether the cross questionong is going to shame her further into regretting that she decided to seek redressal.

A three pronged attack is therefore a viable solution, with women believing in the 'shakti" they embody, the Police living up to their primary role of benfactors and the common man essaying the role of concerned and responsible citizen.

If all of this happens as envisaged,then the days of "adam teasing' are nearing. Soon netizen males will be thinking up means to stave off offending female advances.. Just Kidding.

Cross posted at Desicritics

Latest on Meher Bhargava- March 27th '06

14 comments:

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

Hi,

Nice thought-provoking post. Like your writing style too.

The change will have to come from all quarters, including the law and the government, and the media also.

Just one sentence I would like to expand on, with your kind permission - the burqa being linked to male domination in your post.

A lot of women, including the rapidly increasing number of highly educated Western reverts to Islam, choose to cover themselves in the Islamic way. It is a choice that they make out of their own free will.

So although the modest way of dressing is portrayed as something fathers, husbands and brothers impose on ladies, this might not necessarily be the case in every Muslim household.

A lady might actually *choose* not to display her body, hair, face to strangers.

Here's one whose blog means "the veiled one" - www.almuhajabah.com - for you to browse through when you have time.

Just thought I'd share this with you. Hope you don't mind.



farrukh

banished soul said...

hi.. I am a gal.. :)

and thanks for the message..

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Farrokh,

If you say that it 'is a personal choice', I am nobody to refute. But often the line that differentiates, between peer pressure/societal demands vs personal choice is delicate. The point where one ends and the next begins, is blurred.

Thanks for your comments though. I will look up the site you have linked.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

banished soul,

hey thats a sad name:)

cheer up girl..

Thanks..

s! said...

your three-pronged attack makes a lot of sense.. and i think you have hit on a good point about how with these men, it's how they view themselves, and their lack of self-respect. well written Kaveetaa

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

These days, Kaveetaa, Muslim women are being pressurised to *take off* their covering rather than wear it - and guess who's *forcing* them?

As I write this, women are being denied jobs and schooling just because they choose to cover themselves the Islamic way. Many of them are single Western converts so the point about peer-pressure or parentalk pressure for waering the veil is pointless in their case.

France has *banned* Muslim girls from wearing the headscarf to school. I personally know of Muslim women who have been denied jobs because they wear the hijab by their own choice.

For a Muslim woman, her head cover or face cover is not a symbol as her *liberators* would like to believe. It is a part of her dress. It is what covers her body. Asking her to do away with it is like asking her to undress. Is that liberation?

It's kind of odd to read the age-old assumption that women are *forced* to cover themselves when they might in reality be facing greater challenges for wanting to do so.

Inspite of all these challenges, majority of those embracing Islam in the enlightened and liberated West are women!

By the way, the sher by Sahir sahab was so beautiful - I'd love to get my hands on the nazm.

mapiprincesa said...

During my time in Japan I was constantly shocked to not only become educated as to the injustices women in that country suffer regarding everything from rape rulings (She couldn't have been raped, ruled one judge, because she was wearing pantyhose and that would have made rape too difficult...) to sexual harrassment in the workplace, which affected me as well. I had never before known the pain of having to run back to the solace of my own home sobbing because I could not be in a room alone with one of my co-workers, unable to escape his comments, his touches and incapable of raising my voice to him because I was 1) a woman and 2) a foreigner. I was also young, in my early 20s and gender roles and power in such roles were just becoming defined for me. I am a stronger person now. It was then a harsh reality, but I think had this occurred at my current age, I would have easily found my voice and stood up for myself and for others in my same situation.


Thank you for your thoughts. Very sobering, indeed, and you address issues that all women must ponder. Gender inequality and violence does not discriminate between conservatives and liberals, rich or poor, or different nationalities. It is ubiquitous.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Farrukh,

sahirs nazm
aurat ne janam diyaa mardo.n ko, mardo.n ne use baazaar diyaa
jab jii chaahaa kuchalaa masalaa, jab jii chaahaa dutkaar diyaa

tulatii hai kahii.n diinaaro.n me.n, bikatii hai kahii.n baazaaro.n me.n
na.ngii nachavaaii jaatii hai, aiyyaasho.n ke darabaaro.n me.n
ye vo beizzat chiiz hai jo, ba.nT jAtI hai izzatadaaro.n me.n

mardo.n ke liye har zulm ravaa.N, aurat ke liye ronaa bhii khataa
mardo.n ke liye laakho.n seje.n, aurat ke liye bas ek chitaa
mardo.n ke liye har aish kaa haq, aurat ke liye jiinaa bhii sazaa

jin hoTho.n ne inako pyaar kiyaa, un hoTho.n kaa vyaapaar kiyaa
jis kokh me.n inakaa jism Dhalaa, us kokh kaa kaarobaar kiyaa
jis tan se uge kopal ban kar, us tan ko zaliil-o-khAr kiyaa

mardo.n ne banaayii jo rasme.n, unako haq kaa faramaan kahaa
aurat ke zindaa jal jaane ko, kurbaanii aur balidaan kahaa
qismat ke badale roTii dii, usako bhii ehasaan kahaa

sa.nsaar kii har ek besharmii, gurbat kii god me.n palatii hai
chakalo.n me.n hii aa ke rukatii hai, faako.n me.n jo raah nikalatii hai
mardo.n kii havas hai jo aksar, aurat ke paap me.n Dhalatii hai

aurat sa.nsaar kii qismat hai, fir bhii taqadiir kii hotii hai
avataar payambar janatii hai, phir bhii shaitaan kii beTii hai
ye vo badaqismat maa.N hai jo, beTo.n kii sez pe leTii hai

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

"it Is ubiquitous'

True maiprincesa.

It is an anomaly to believe that we are different or that our problems vary. They are the same, only degrees vary. Therefore the aligning with your pain is easy for me. I understand totally.

Happy to note that it is a thing of the past and it has been interpreted as a learning experience.:)

farrukh: copywriter & journalist said...

Thank you soooo very much Kaveetaa for taking the time to post the entire nazm for me. You are the sweetest blogger I have met so far, with a very good ear for poetry to boot :-)

Makes me want to go back to the days when I was dabbling with radeefs and qaafiyas of Urdu shayree.

The nazms that have moved me most were compiled in a book called "Zabtshuda nazmein" most of which were written during the Indian freedom struggle - used to bring tears to my eyes!

farrukh

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Farrukh,

You are welcome.

My father was a shair , so have grown up on urdu poetry. Please scroll down to learn more and the rivetting tale of it all in An uncommon love story'.. Lower down.

Thanks.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

farrukh,

that should have read 'shaayar' not shair..lol

North said...

Very wonderfully written piece, Kaveeta!

Being this is 2006, and we must still deal with these common issues of ancient-rooted behaviour; I often wonder how long it might take, before greater strides are made, towards compassionate understanding for female victims of abuse.

Abuse is as old as mankind is, and sometimes, I think we have not come far enough; however, if we were to reflect on just a short thirty years ago, we have made great strides in womens equality and protective rights.

Articles like this one Kaveeta; so well thought-out; keep this issue on the fore-front, on the table; and for that, as a woman, I thank you, and thousands of other women too!

North

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Thanks a ton North,

Yes the road ahead seeems long and unpaved.

yet, the simmer in our hearts is going to remain unchanged. That is the reason I am hopeful and optimistic of a better world for the coming generations.