Have you as a women faced eve-teasing? What a question, right?
It’s one that every Indian girl will answer in the affirmative. I know that, and yet, I was stupid enough to believe that as a woman with a child, I was past those days. Well, turns out I was sadly mistaken.
Recently, I was walking in a mall and a few young boys made some tasteless comments about my short hair. I ignored it and walked on, more because I was with my child and did not really wish to make a scene after a long day. However, the incident did leave me raging and slightly shaken. Obviously, as a working woman of a metro city I have faced way worse situations, but this one brought back a lot of old memories.
It reminded me of the time when I bought my first car and the thought that I would never need to use public transport or autos again. It was a liberating feeling. But I am only too aware of the fact that not everyone can afford to buy a car because they feel so unsafe getting back home late. I used to love long walks in the evening breeze, especially on warm summer days. But I lost my appetite for it long ago, when a man on the street started following me back one day and I literally shooed him away by picking up stones from street and flinging it in his direction.
But does this need an ‘anti-romeo’ squad? In my view this is fraught with trouble is already targeting men and women who have nothing to do with it.
Also, and more disturbingly, this is becoming the start of moral policing. A number of incidents have surfaced where innocent boys have been hauled off the streets for questioning, when they were waiting around girl’s colleges to pick up their sisters or friends. Consenting couples hanging out in public places, have become targets – which may not be the intent of this move, but it definitely is a big by product. Another opposition against this law is that it has been tried in Gujarat with little success and it is largely believed that the romeos will be back once the media focus on the squads, and their enthusiasm dies down.
The idea is to allow girls and women to safely go to-and-from their places of study or work without having to worry about eve-teasers, stalkers and the like. Many a girl has lost out on an opportunity for higher education or work in the name of her own protection. Is it wrong to instill some fear in the boys, show them there are consequences? It is important that the UP state government figure out a way to allow these girls to gain freedom from fear of walking in the streets, of taking public transport, of working late at night.
What is needed is a better police force and implementation of laws. We don’t need more laws, we need to implement the ones we have better. If the UP government wants to make the streets safe for women, then they need to have a fast and better implemented punitive system. Scraping malls for couples will not make the streets safer for women – punishing those who commit crimes is what is needed.
by Namratha Varadharajan
Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com