If in a public place, displeasing or adverse remarks are passed to a woman, then it will amount to eve-teasing. A public place can be any place which includes street, market, malls, public transportation etc. Indian law does not provide the meaning of eve-teasing. “Eve” in the term eve-teasing represents that the woman herself tempt the male for disgraceful comments and behaviour towards her. The term contains some demerits because it is blaming the victim for her own sufferings. It shows that the cause of eve-teasing is a woman herself.
Sexual assault or sexual harassment of women either verbally or by making any type of vulgar gestures is defined as “eve-teasing”. If eve-teasing is also considered as harassment of a woman. It includes vulgar gestures, sexual remarks, winking, whistling, staring, touching inappropriately, groping etc. In South Asia, eve-teasing is considered as a common euphemism for sexual harassment of women by men in various public places.
The dignity of women is being taken care of by various laws that are stated in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 [IPC]. The acts or behaviour that causes hurt to the dignity of women is dealt with a few sections of IPC. Section 294 and Section 509 of IPC are two sections related to this.
If obscene acts are committed in public or obscene words are spoken in public then Section 294 makes the punishment for such acts mandatory. Section 294 states that if anyone does any obscene acts in a public place or sing, recite or utters any obscene song, ballad, words in a public place or even a place that is close to a public place and such an act causes annoyance to others then it will amount to an offence under Section 294.
The person will be punished with imprisonment up to 3 months or fine or both. This section is not gender-specific so, male or female can be a victim or the offender. The penalty will depend upon the severity of the offence.
The main causes of eve-teasing are:
- In recent times it is often seen that there has been degradation of social, cultural and moral values.
- There is a lack of positive attitudes towards women in society.
- People often consider women as commodities.
- There has been widespread pornography.
- Due to the free and uncontrolled telecast of satellite TV channels people are often influenced by films, shows, etc.
- Due to unawareness of the parents regarding their children.
- Eve-teasing is also an increasing problem in society because there has been a lack of proper education and gender discrimination in society.
- Due to less separate laws regarding eve-teasing.
- Unawareness of people regarding eve-teasing laws.
Eve-teasing can be stopped if people are educated about the laws as well as punishments related to it because the offender must know the consequences of his act. A person should carry safety equipment with him/her that can help to combat the problem there and then.
Technology can be helpful in this case, the person can set SOS numbers of the close ones on his/her phone. If a person is self-reliant and can defend himself/herself then the cases of eve-teasing can be reduced. Laws should be made stricter and hard punishments should be imposed so that a person should not think of committing such types of offences.
Eve-teasing is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Eve-teasing should be treated as an independent crime. Better enforcement mechanism and stricter laws are needed against eve-teasing. Law-makers should make a law addressing this issue because it can help in lowering the number of cases of eve-teasing. Police should pay more attention towards this crime and should focus on the issue as soon as the complaint is lodged. Eve-teasing might sound less harmful crime but it can turn into a grievous one if not stopped at an early stage.