Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Vow of Zero Tolerance

I was eveteased today. As I made my way along the pavement to the grocery store, a man walked past me and in a low tone leeringly mumbled, “looking nice, looking good”.

Now here’s how I’ve dealt with eveteasing in the past: If it was a remark or a comment, I’d just shrug it off and ignore it, choosing to walk on and avoid a scene. However, if I was touched or groped, I’d turn around and let the person have it – verbally and physically.

Lately, I’ve changed. The horrific incident in Delhi and the furor that followed has everything to do with it. We Indian women are too meek, too submissive, too tolerant. Why was I tolerating a remark? Eveteasing is eveteasing  in ANY form – no matter how seemingly innocuous a comment, a look, a gesture or a touch.

Why must we tolerate it at all?

This morning, something inside me snapped. I wheeled around as the man walked by and called out, “What did you say? Repeat it!” He ignored me and quickened his pace as I turned around and began following him. As I began catching up, he quickly ran across the road and reached the pavement on the opposite side. I kept pace with him on my side of the road, keeping out of sight behind a line of parked cars. He had now slowed to a walk, thinking I’d given up and gone. I quickly ran across the road and confronted him.

He started babbling apologies as soon as I had him cornered. Initially, he said, “I was not talking to you.” “Then who?” I demanded at the top of my voice. “There was nobody there. Were you talking to the cars? The wall? The pavement? Where should I take you? The mental asylum or the police station?”

He resorted to apologising again. But I was not going to let him off lightly. I was livid. My voice kept rising as I yelled at him, telling him he would get five years in jail if I filed a complaint (I’m not even sure that’s true, but hey, nobody’s going to debate with a furious woman). As he switched to Kannada, I decided I’d hit him where it hurt – his pride. “Oh, to evetease you speak English and now you speak Kannada? Do you Kannadiga men have no respect for women? This is what your culture teaches you?”

"You have goddesses - Durga, Kali, Lakshmi. And yet you have no respect for women?"

A little crowd was gathering. A car with a couple had stopped. A guy asked what had happened. The eveteaser was now quite rattled. He kept pinching his throat and pleading and apologising. “You are the same type of people as the Delhi rapists! Get down on your knees! On your knees!” I screamed. I kept screaming louder and louder until he actually complied. There he was, on his knees, apologising. “You open your mouth to one more woman and see what happens to you,” I shrieked before resorting to a bunch of cuss words I would not like to defile my blog space with. And with that, I walked away.

I can only hope that this public shaming will make him think twice before he disrespects another woman. My only regret is that I wasn’t carrying my cellphone to take a picture of the groveling lowlife.

This is my appeal to all you women out there. Enough is enough. Let’s have zero tolerance towards eveteasing or molestation in any form. No matter how trivial you think it is. Nothing is trivial. Shout. Scream. Make a scene. Shame them. If the only way to make them respect you is by instilling fear, then so be it.

And decent men out there: Take a strong stand. Stand up for a woman in distress. Don't stand around and gawk or turn a blind eye as she takes a stand and fights for what is essentially her birthright: a life of dignity, safety and freedom.

Nip it in the bud. Eveteasers today are potential rapists tomorrow. By confronting these disgusting creeps, you are making our world a safer, better place for other women – one eveteaser at a time. It’s a tiny drop in the ocean, but it is a start. If my actions today make that man avoid teasing one other woman in the coming week (I highly doubt it would have cured him of his filthy behaviour), then I’ve made a difference. Hardly a dent in the wider spectrum of things, but a teeny tiny difference still.

“Kindly adjust maadi” may be the maxim in Bangalore. But no more. I’m done being kind. I’m done adjusting. The only thing I am going to adjust now is the sickening attitude of eveteasers. Who’s with me?

UPDATE: On Saturday, 23rd February, I encountered yet another eveteaser. The young man sang out as he passed by me. I kicked up a ruckus again - following him while I screamed and brandished an umbrella in his face. When I asked him to kneel down, for some reason (most likely the language barrier), he thought I meant sit-ups! So a few amused passersby and I watched in silence as he did about four or five sit-ups before I walked away. "Very good! Even I do the same thing!" a girl called out to me. I certainly hope she does. She and a couple of million other Indian women. 


  1. little did he know,
    it only looked floral.
    the desolate fly trap

    India needs more women to be like you.

  2. @taran: Like me, eh? That would make more women acid-tongued, floral printed, prone to wardrobe malfunctions and suspicious of vegetables.

  3. You go girl! Shame them, humiliate them and make them get down on their knees and beg!

  4. Woah! Part of me wishes I was one of those passers-by. The least I could have done was joined you.

    This happened to me many years ago. I was wearing capris and two men thought they could act smart. They pretended to be drunk (in the middle of a very hot afternoon) and swayed towards me. I stepped back and out of sheer fury, I lashed out and smacked the one closest to me. They were so stunned that a woman, who they thought was clueless, actually attacked them, they sobered up quickly and disappeared. Not a peep out of them.

    I, too, have resolved to not let people get away with eve teasing. Here's to us and let us hope other women also stand up for themselves.

  5. @Smriti: Girl power! Hell, yeah!

    @RR: I wish you were. I could have done well with some reinforcement. Really put the fear of God into that mofo!

  6. Very unfortunate that our women have to go through such barbarism!

    You dealt with it good! Very well done!

  7. @Manoj: Barbarism, it is! I think it's high time each of us becomes an integral part of the change we want to see.

    Thank you :)

  8. Proud of you. Take no nonsense.Ever.

  9. Can't tell you how much I rooted for you when i read your reaction. You go girl! That was a brave and a very right thing to do. And i'll remember this the next time. Let's use our cellphones to click pics of jerks like the one you encountered (no pun intended). :)

  10. @Sairee: No nonsense. Absolutely! :)

    @Arch: Thank you! I had a repeat episode this weekend again! This time around, due to the language barrier, the guy thought he had to do sit-ups - much to the amusement of onlookers and myself! Good idea... I've been mulling opening up a blog just for pictures of eveteasers being punished! Send me your best :)

  11. WOW. Can't believe you actually did that! I should definitely learn from u

  12. I am happy you did that and if all women subject to harassment does that, the morons will stop. Brave

  13. @Ghata: It's time we started taking a firm stand :)

    @Ranveer: Thanks! True, if all women stand up to their eve teasers, we can finally put an end to the behaviour.


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