In India, most eve-teasing cases go unreported. Even if reported, they are either taken lightly in case of verbal abuse or completely brushed off. This is not surprising since most crimes against women, apart from violent and physically harming ones, are taken casually. However, thankfully in the case presented in front of the Kerala High Court, the bench took a firmer stand against the perpetrator.
The High Court denied anticipatory bail to an accused of allegedly making inappropriate remarks against a minor girl and for allegedly assaulting her father when rebuked for his action. The accused had allegedly hit the father, who is a retired Sub-Inspector of Police on the chest with a helmet, thus causing injuries.
The court while giving its judgment said, “It is unfortunate if a man and his daughter cannot walk together without someone making lewd comments. Such things should stop.” When the accused pointed the finger at the father for starting the fight, the court snapped and said that it would be a normal reaction of any parent who hears lewd comments being made on their children.
Kerala HC On Eve Teasing
The accused argued that the only non-bailable charge against him was section 308, which is an attempt to commit homicide, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court after hearing both sides of the argument said, “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case and considering the nature of the allegations, I am of the view that the petitioner is not entitled to anticipatory bail.”
The court also said that if the accused surrendered before the ascribed officers, then the accused will be produced before the jurisdictional magistrate and then it shall depend on them if they consider it.
The lewd comments, eve-teasing, objectification and the constant terror of an abrupt action ensue most women in India. Sometimes, these topics become conversation starters for most women while speaking with other women. These crimes are hushed and often normalised by society.
Normalised in a way, wherein, a woman is asked to lower her gaze, pull up her neckline and pass quietly by this hooliganism. They are asked to not pay heed because the next fear that is stuck in our throat is what if the man pulls a violent crime next, what if he corners the person, what if he physically assaults.
These fears are not coming from a place of nothingness. It is coming from the statistics put out by the National Crime Records Bureau, the everyday headlines on violence against women and lived experience. But to blame the woman and silence the survivor is in no way a counterattack on the filth and misogyny that exists against women. It strengthens the courage and ego that a man holds and it normalises the need for men to necessarily make a woman uncomfortable.
Like Kerala High Court said that it is an unfortunate incident. Agreed. It is unfortunate and has been like that for a long time. To change the system is to change the way we perceive any given situation. Check ourselves before blaming the woman first. No, she was not teased for her clothes or because she was hanging out with boys or because she chose to take a drag of a cigarette or because she went out alone at night/day/at whatever time.
Stop blaming the survivor, try to see the accused and point fingers at why was he passing lewd comments on a 14-year-old girl. Try to question the sick mentality of men who perversely choose to make women–of any age–uncomfortable.
The year is 2022. We are talking about progress, world leadership, economic strength, border politics, hegemony, amongst other big words. But do you think a country is great if the women living in it are in constant fear of being cat-called, eve teased, touched inappropriately, raped, sexual violence, marital rape, sexism, misogyny, amongst many other crimes against women. Let’s not normalise these crimes.
Views expressed are author’s own.