Is stalking of girls and women illegal in India?

Videos like the one below undermine the seriousness of Sexual Harassment  This video is almost like wishful thinking, a quick, easy solution to a problem nobody seems to take seriously.

‘Calling it ‘eve teasing’ trivializes the act; it isn’t teasing, it’s harassment.

And sexual harassment on the street is a gateway crime that creates a cultural environment which makes gender-based violence OK.’

Young girls in many parts of India are taken out of school once they reach puberty because of Street Sexual Harassment [link-1 , link-2]. Girls are known to commit suicide because of such harassment.

The High Court of Bangladesh declared on 26 January, 2011 stalking of girls and women illegal, and directed the government to consider the offence as sexual harassment instead of the term Eve Teasing. The court’s ruling came amid growing incidences of stalking that led many victims to commit suicide.

Is stalking of girls and women illegal in India?

“There exists a legal framework to reproach sexual harassment and abuse in the home and at work, but when it comes to the streets—all bets are off.

It is ‘culturally accepted as ‘the price you pay’ for being a woman and living in a city.’

The explosion of technology in India via the mobile phone and the Internet has given us an unprecedented opportunity to end street harassment...

Hollaback is a global movement dedicated to ending street harassment. Hollaback Mumbai says,

Share Your Story

If you feel like you have been harassed, we want to hear about it.  Tell us your story. Or send us a drawing, a picture, a poem, a song, a picture of a piece of string that you tied into several knots because you were so frustrated. We are working on SMS capabilities so that you can SMS us when you have been harassed.

Visit www.mumbai.ihollaback.org for more details.

Related Posts:

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work

The night I was not an easy prey

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41 thoughts on “Is stalking of girls and women illegal in India?

  1. I appreciate your recent posts that speak of several unanswered questions in our society. The price-you-pay theory is not only absurd but sadly, far too applied. Why should women have to pay a price? For being a woman?
    Sigh. There are so many home-truths that need to be hit home.

    Like

  2. IHM, I love the energy with which you bring up these issues again and again; it’s never enough, given the society we live in.

    My first thought on seeing the video on top was – where are the public spaces where a group of girls can just sit and talk/do their homework? It’s understood that public spaces are not for women, and if they dare to venture out and claim them, they better be prepared for harassment. If anything, people will only talk about how “she should have been more careful.”

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    • Yes that was my first thought too! Your comment reminded me of the time I read ‘Endless Night’ by Agatha Christie as a very young girl, I remember being really worried about the female character – (I was sure she was going to be killed or raped in that scene), when she sat alone in a park watching a sunset.
      We have got so used to not being allowed in public spaces, in fact most public spaces have come to be seen as ‘Spaces for Men’.

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      • I remember when I was doing my Engineering…we would have 2 exams in a day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a 2 hour break inbetween. There was also a lovely park closeby with huge shady trees…something our campus did not have…so a bunch of us – boys and girls were sitting in the park and studying when a police constable came and broke the group up. Some of the guys also got hit with the lathi and there were threats of telling our parents. Telling what? that we were caught studying?

        Also when I was standing in a bus stop as a student, some guy started making lewd comments. I felt unsafe and walked across the street to the police station to get help (he even tried to touch me) and instead of helping me, the police inspector yelled at me for wearing “western” clothes and bringing it upon myself.

        This was more than 10 years ago. Sadly, nothing has changed.

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  3. I love the work Hollaback is doing. Making street harassment like it’s a trivial matter just allows for people not to really do anything about it. I liked the second video because it encourages men to speak up about this too.

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    • Yes and men do speak up when they can. When I was in college, this man in a DTC bus, pretended to be asleep and let his head fall on my shoulder, again and again (I kept moving to avoid it, but there was nowhere to go in a crowded bus), and I still remember this old sardarjee, who shook him awake and said just three words, “Zara hosh mein!”

      (Translates to a firm warning to behave himself… can’t think of the exact translation)

      Like

    • Yes. But I would not make light of this crime. It can and does have serious consequences, in many cases child abuse too. There was this news of this girl who was kidnapped from her house after having been stalked for sometime. (In Meerut I think) – her father was killed, and other family members injured.

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      • Yes, it is funny.
        But I find poetic justice in this.
        A “dumb” lamp post teaches a rowdie a much needed lesson when other male bystanders who could be vocal, do nothing.
        Was this video staged? Or is it a live recording of real happening?
        Either way, I enjoyed watching it.
        Thanks for sharing this.
        Regards
        GV

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        • If it is live recording then it’s definitely poetic justice, but I would rather have talked the this boy about why his behaviour is seriously wrong. Seeing the girls laugh he might fail to realise just how harmful his actions were. Like another commenter said girls can’t even think of sitting in parks like this, just because of such harassment. I can count on my fingers the number of public parks I have seen where women and girls can comfortably sit.

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  4. Excellent article, I like coming here and reading about all thse problems faced ..

    Eve teasing is quiet common especially in india it indeed is very bad and as u said shud be treated as harassment..

    I am more on the hot blood , I would love to see the girsl get together and give the guy a nice bashing.. I remember when i was in college and my sis studying too, anytime anyone DARED say anything they would get a thrashing of a life time .. I dont know i was the good guy because I had my sis at home or what the reason is but I strongly feel one thing that IF a man cant respect a woman he is not fit to be a man .. yepp old school but it still works

    god knows what one enjoys in teasing a girl, I mean if u like someone or want to talk why not just go and talk to the poor girl instead of embarassing her in front of everyone …

    I am weird i guess 🙂 casue when i was growing up and in my college days we had better things to do, Win the hockey cup, GO uphill to shimla , zoom on bikes.. watch movies .. go to youth festivals .. NCC camps etc etc sometimes i feel did i miss something 🙂

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    • Bikki, you are so right when you say ‘I mean if u like someone or want to talk why not just go and talk to the poor girl instead of embarassing her in front of everyone …’ If only it were that straight-forward!!!

      Like

  5. I remember a time when my high spirited brothers teased a girl – just because others were doing it, and they thought it was “the right way for boys to behave”. One of my uncles hauled them home and read them a riot act. In those days – it was not the girl’s trauma that was taken into consideration, but the fact that their misbehavior would bring shame to the family. Thank goodness now, at least, the discomfort of the woman is taken into consideration.

    Like

  6. When a girl is harassed no one comes to her aid be it in the bus or on the road.Our rules are not strict.

    Dubai is very liberal country unlike other gulf countries where women has much freedom,i used to go alone to work and come home late at night,i have not seen any one harassing,because there people are scared of the strict rules.

    Having said this last month a 4 year old nursery school girl was molested by the bus driver and the attender.The school has the tracking system for the bus and they have the complete data of the bus and the route it takes on the road.Even after this the indian bus driver and the indian attender did that to the small baby.Even they have the strict rules to keep the curtains of the window open.(sorry this is out of the topic).

    The judgement of stalking of girls to be treated as sexual harassment is commendable….

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    • Not only should the curtains be open I also find dark glasses in AC school buses a matter of concern Saritha. I also feel all school buses should have a female attendant, I had fought to get one, in one of the schools my kids went to.

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      • Ihm in some schools in dubai have female attenders and glass of the buses are not dark.Now after this incident they are planning to keep a camera in each and every bus and it is been watched by authorities.

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  7. Loved both the ADs, IHM. I think eve-teasing should be treated as a crime and punished SEVERELY. I once commented something to this effect on another blog, and there was one guy who replied saying ‘imprisonment for mere eve teasing’ is too severe a punishment. WTF! Today, a guy will pass lewd comments, tomorrow, he will pinch in the wrong place, and the day after he will molest a girl. These are just stages. Nip it in the bud, put the eve teasers behind bars, or castrate them if they refuse to learn their lesson.

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  8. Yes, the video is made by thoughtless people and trivializes the issue. The post was where it was, the boy banged his head against it coz he was looking elsewhere, at the girls. Could have happened if he had been looking at a crow, a bike, a friend or whatever! So how does this video convey any particular message about stalking??
    This is a typically Bollywoodish (or even any regional movies) look at things. Does anyone get the message via this ad?? I don’t think so. Everyone laughs and goes on stalking.

    Why is the emphasis on the injury to the boy who stalks the girl the focus in the video?? It is, ‘You wanna avoid injury don’t stalk girls/women’.
    But, is that the point?? Is avoiding injury the message we want to convey?? I would think the emphasis should be on the woman, that she has a right to this world, its parks, streets as much as the man. So leave her alone. You don’t stalk a woman because she is also a human being like you who is entitled to walk free of harassment, not simply because it might be injurious to anyone’s health. That is such a frivolous look at things. It is not about (male) health. It is about how a woman’s space has to be respected.

    @G Vishwanath, It is good if bystanders help women when they are stalked/harassed, but those are temporary solutions. The lessons that help convey the message with permanence will be when it is taught and understood that women are people too just like men.

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    • You know what will work best? The victim should herself start shouting/screaming at the eve-teaser, and the entire crowd of people should THRASH him with chappals and stones. He should be left bleeding and his bloody face should be aired on national TV. That would cure him for life!!!

      It would also be a deterrent for other eve-teasers.

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      • No use Pal . I usually don’t react becoz I will lose my temper to such an extend that I will lose myself. .

        Once I was hurrying with my kids dragging them all along to their weekend classes when a worker wolf called a song . The song is a very good romantic one . But words have double meaning .

        He had been doing this for quite a few days . I got hooked off to such an extend that I stopped in midway to give him a piece of my mind . I was so angry thinking he has the guts to tease a mother who is trying hard to manage two kids and is running mad with her chores .

        He came up with the excuse that he is singing on his own . Why did I listen . and such bull s***t !! What made me really sad is the fact the the other men who were along with him were just smiling to see all this and he was working in the house next to ours and the people there just peeked from inside and went back .

        My kids got so upset and wouldn’t let me take that path until they went away finishing their work. They used to say it will make you upset . Even now after almost a year I feel like giving him a good blow .

        This is the society we are living in .

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  10. Excellent question you raised
    yes there are laws.
    but even if you go to police station they will not easily register the complainant.
    Even society thinks girls are responsible for the male’s bad behavior
    2nd and most important thing is our laws are useless,full of loopholes and without correct meaning , example is child marriage age, the age is different one law it says 18, another at 16 it make it legal.

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  11. There is something known as the Broken Windows theory which states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well reduce more serious crime. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory)

    In a way, this kind of harassment of women, or at least the kind that we face most often (and have learned over time to tune out), is like the broken windows. It’s seemingly small but it’s the first step to letting things slide.

    Really, if we can send a strong signal that this is not acceptable, a lot would change. What we really need is not just to educate the men who do such things but also to educate our police. That it really is the man’s fault. Of course, all this is going to do is get the police richer as people have yet another reason to bribe them…

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  12. I used to encounter ” eve teasing” as it is called while traveling to and back from college …. and everytime my blood used to boil…I really felt like making those ppl go through the same torture..it feels like a part of the mentality that treats women as mere objects and not other human beings who would be harrassed by such acts. I wonder how can a change be brought in people’s attitudes…. if healthy interactions were allowed between boys and girls from a very young age (and not suppressing any interactions b/n them like groups which ban valentine’s day do) it might make a difference to the way they view women!

    me – I agree. Healthy interaction is the only way for each to know that the other is as much human as themselves. In our college days, we used to be glad to see college students in DTC buses, even if we only vaguely knew them, because one could be sure of finding support in case of harassment. Why were these boys different from those who ‘eve-teased’ – I think the difference was the knowledge that these guys knew girls to be ‘people’. (because they interacted with them)

    Like

  13. Everyone teases each other right from school and i m not talking about teasing that has anything to do with sex.., humans are like that only, they are bullies and have an attitude for harrasing others..

    Like

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  16. This is one the crimes, that is so so so trivialised! A woman gets into public transport or walks through streets expecting to face things like this in India, and even school girls are not spared. I remember when I was in school, there were some lanes which extremely difficult to walk through.

    The first video is an example of how lightly the issue is taken. And unless we take the issue seriously, it will continue on our streets.

    me – It’s almost like saying, “chalo he fell down, now you girls stop cribbing!”

    Like

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