“Head high, chin up, walk as if you own the damn street”

April 27, 2011

I have been a spectator to street sexual harassment for as long as I can remember. In my teens I was urged by male friends to ‘check out’ every girl, call it peer pressure but somewhere something felt very wrong.

The girls being gawked at from top to bottom obviously didn’t enjoy the unwanted attention. I could sense that, being a timidly shy person. I always said a “no” and walked straight ahead only to be told I was only being ‘stylish’ and that it was my unique way of wooing them, which I found most absurd.

As I read news of éve teasing’ my anger grew stronger. I guess I’ve always hated bullies who try to intimidate people.

An incident that comes to mind was in college. My girlfriend was groped at 5.30 in the morning while on her way to a temple. Rather than empathising I forbid her from travelling alone. I guess my mind was trained to believe I was protecting her but deep down I was only boosting a typical insecure Indian male chauvinist.

Well that was 10 years ago, but still I witness groups of men staring and chuckling at the sight of any girl they deem fit to be part of their sick world. Honking, singing distasteful songs, sexual innuendos, gestures, calling names, and rating. Eve teasing, as we like to call it in this part of the world, is a crime most rampant, yet most ignored by the witnesses and the victim. From pan spitting autowallahs trying to get a sneak peak from their rear view mirror to 50 year olds gawking shamlessly at school girls, it’s out there.

I think sexist movies/vulgar items have only added to the confusion, repeatedly portraying women as a lesser being only there to please and entertain while our ‘hero’ fights to protect human civilization. Some of our Bollywood airheads take pride in being labelled as the #1 item girl (item means commodity) The portrayal of white women wearing the skimpiest of clothing whilst they push n pull the ‘hero’ who is too cool and takes liberties to feel em up is what you see in every film and a sure shot way of pulling in the audiences. How dense are we?

Daughters accompanied by parents, mothers carrying young infants, young girls walking in the company of males, no one is spared.  The most annoying sight for me personally is young men holding hands (never can tell if they’re lovers or frightened) checking out every woman as if it were ET doing squats.

It’s not just the uneducated laborers at construction sites, but it’s men from affluent backgrounds indulging in the same; maybe in a what they believe sophisticated manner but its still harassment. A friend nudges me once to check out a girl in a skirt. And he goes, “You see her? I bet she’d sleep with anyone!”

As a man nothing pisses me off more than the sight of men shamelessly staring at my partner/friends. Such behavior is at its peak during festivals when heavy vehicles laden with erotically charged puberty stricken boys from slums go to great lengths to jeopardize their lives and that of others. Indian festivals like Janmashtami, Holi or Ganesh Visarjan have drawbacks especially if you’re a woman. Every corner one finds skinny uncouth frustrated ‘govindas’ waiting to pounce on you. Lude gestures, sexual innuendos all in broad daylight and no action is ever taken against these desperate for attention morons. Cops go soft on them in the spirit of revelry.

Tips for Boys

(1) Insecure boys bully and intimidate with the belief they’re superior to women. Its simply a way to assert fake masculinity. Any dignified man with even a little self respect will treat ALL women with respect irrespective of what she wears, personal choices, where she’s from or how she looks.

(2) You look like complete douche bags when you stare, comment, rate etc

(3) Irrespective to what your ‘friends’ think always question your own double standards and attitudes. Avoid laughing at sexist jokes simply to humor them reminding yourself you might offend someone. Do not repeat what your fathers did. Believe me there is no place in the Men’s community for perverts.Your attitude towards strangers reflects your upbringing at home. Besides you wouldn’t want your mother or your sister to go through the exact same thing.

(4) Speak up when you witness/experience bullying. Neutrality helps the oppressor not the victim.

(5) Do away with cliches such as ‘boys will be boys’ You have no bloody right to interrupt another’s personal space just coz you can’t keep it in your pants.

(6) Being stared at by scary strange men can be quite an experience. No woman likes being ‘appreciated’ by random morons.

A little about my group Shoot At Sight

It’s simple. Click pictures of perpetrators of street sexual harassment and upload it on the group. Ive been doing this and the feeling is awesome.

Imagine as a woman, life constantly being interrupted by stares, chuckling and sexual innuendos? You’re constantly being made to feel sorry for stepping outside your door, to feel sorry you’re a woman, made to feel its happening coz your always asking for it.

The bullying MUST stop! By clicking pics I personally believe your taking the power away from the gaze and bringing shame to the whole act. I see so many of them hiding their faces when i whip my phone out, standing motionless in front of them as if to say “lets see how much of a man are you now?”

The more pics we have the more the group grows. The more it grows, the more people would want to join and discuss street sexual harassment as a crime rather than pretending it doesn’t exist.

Head high, chin up, walk as if you own the damn street.

– Mohnish Moorjani

Creator of the group Shoot At Sight

This post is part of the weekly blog series by male allies. We need men involved in the work to end the social acceptability of street harassment and to stop the practice, period. If you’d like to contribute to this weekly series, please contact me.


“We have sent a Man to the Moon, and Women walk around with Mace in their handbags”

April 13, 2011

Lets see what have we done.

We’ve come a long way. Man on the moon, Satellite in space, heart transplants, liver transplants, all possible.

And yet, when we walk on the road, we do not look at each other, nod and smile.

When was the last time you walked to the market and smiled and nodded to every woman you met on the way?

You simply don’t. Men have done so much street harassment that each woman walking on the street, going to work, driving to work, going to the market, going shopping or simply going for a walk thinks that the man coming in front of her will pass a remark or stare at her breasts or try to at least brush past her.

And it is not unfair to say that men have earned this tag of being synonyms of harassers. It is a badge we have earned over the years after having stared at the breasts of almost every woman we pass by on the street.

Take a minute. Read this. Sit down. Think.

When was the last time your wife/daughter/sister went on a public transport and came back without even a single strange male trying to touch her indecently.

When was the last time you yourself were on a bus/train and saw some random man try and get close to a random woman and you made an effort to raise a voice against that man?

Most probably, you just turned the other way around and thought to yourself this happens everyday.

When was the last time you stood in the aisle while in a bus or a train and did NOT try to peek inside the shirt of the woman sitting on the seats?

Men must realize that every action they do nonchalantly does hurt the sentiments of someone a lot. We have created this whole big mess for ourselves wherein just because we do not speak out against injustice happening on the streets in the form of harassment we too get stressed. Every time the wife of the daughter goes out she has a story to tell when she gets back home. We have started this. We must come forward together as one to stop it.

We must educate the boy child from the very beginning that it is not alright to stare at random woman on the street. We must teach them to respect the fairer sex as much as they would respect a their own mothers. It’s not alright to pass remarks to woman on the street/bus/train/park & everywhere else. All woman are not their honey/sweetheart/sweetie.

Walk on the streets like you would expect other men to walk when your wife/daughter/sister is out walking alone. Seriously men, women’s breasts are not museum exhibits. It’s not alright to stare. It’s not alright to stare down their shirts. It’s not alright to turn back while walking and ogle at their waists and hips. It’s not alright to whistle. It’s not alright to pass remarks. They are NOT your honey. And no, she will not suck you or have sex with you or sit on your lap. Please keep your organs inside your pants. If you cannot control your urges, go help yourselves. Do not expect every random woman on the street to jump in the sack with you. They are not your playthings. Come together as one, reach out, voice out against street harassment. A little effort from all of us can go a long way in ensuring the women can feel safe on the street. It has to be a collective effort. One man alone cannot do it.

But you have to stop staring and ogling. You have to start re-thinking your actions. There is a very thin line between a gentle flirtatious glance and a stare that would make someone uncomfortable. If you don’t get the difference between the both of them, please do neither and help keep some women’s sanity intact.

Do we realize what have we done to this world? We have sent a Man to the Moon, and the Woman walk around with Mace in their handbags.

I would suggest, let’s send all the men to the Moon. At least Mace would be able to concentrate on manufacturing other toys that kids could use.

@TbgDgc in Delhi, India

Visit his blog at: Desi Ghee and Coffee

This post is part of the weekly blog series by male allies. We need men involved in the work to end the social acceptability of street harassment and to stop the practice, period. If you’d like to contribute to this weekly series, please contact me.

Harassment on buses in Bangalore, India

March 9, 2011

Women face many problems during traveling in the bus,while getting inside the rush bus, standing in the rush, while long traveling. Men used to sit at the back and disturb them, even school going girls. I too personally was harassed for repeated number of times. It will affect mentally and reduce the boldness.

– angelin

Location: Bangalore, India

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.


Nonconfrontational intervention to stop eve-teasing in Delhi

March 4, 2011

Nai Sadak Book Market

It was the start of 3rd semester when I, with one of my friends, went to Nai Sadak to buy some of our course books. For those who don’t know, Nai Sadak is a well known and famous place in Delhi, India. You can find all course books there. While returning back to Chandni Chowk Metro Station we took a short cut. The short cut was quite remote, which we realized later.

We took a right turn and 5-6 meters ahead of us was walking a girl, constantly being followed by 2 local boys who were passing lewd remarks on her. Unaware of us, time to time they were making comment steep on the chart of lewdness. She was holding a poly-bag in her right hand and a bag was on her shoulder, seems she too was there to shop for books.

While walking by something shot into my solitude. This is eve-teasing, right? I questioned myself. I’ve read about it but never faced any situation quite like this.

“How should I stop it?” was the next question.

I told it to my friend, he too was concern. We cannot fight them like this. We needed to figure out something diplomatic. And that was the time when an idea struck into my mind.

We hurriedly went to the girl, passing by the boys, and started walking by her sides. At first she didn’t notice, perhaps because she was busy in figuring out how to get out of the mess she was in. Soon she noticed the halt in lewd remarks and two fellows walking along her sides and joking on their school life. The boys following her were still following us. I think it was instincts more than understanding that the girl realized that we were there just to help.

I passed a smile to her and she returned it back. Within no time we reached Metro Station. Not saying much she thanked us for our help. We parted our ways. She went off to catch a bus while we took  the Metro.

This was the first time I ever took such a step and perhaps the first time I ever saw eve-teasing and dared to intervene before it could turn ugly.

India is a country of freedom but freedom is at times taken in a sense of “Free-To-Do-Anything”.

Prateek Bagri

Location: Delhi, India

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.


A male ally in New Delhi, India, speaks out – part 3

February 25, 2011

[Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in in a 3 part series. Here is part 1 and 2]

For Men:

Each time you don’t have to fight back the guys who harass women on the street or hit them with your cars. I agree what I did back them in the rain was reckless and some serious damage could have been done too. But is sitting quietly in your car with the windows rolled up and the stereo on load the answer to everything?

You don’t have to be super human to fight street harassment too. At times, a simple task like moving in front of the girl and shielding her from the view of those guys is also good enough. We don’t essentially need to pick up a fight each time some guy harasses someone on the street. At times, you could do what I did, go behind the counter and help someone throw groceries in the sack so she doesn’t need to bend down.

Little things, and little efforts at times go a long way in making a woman feel a little more secure. Men need to make a genuine effort to stop street harassment too. This is not a women’s only issue. This is an issue that needs collective effort by both men and women.

Please talk to the woman in front of you, not to her chest. We all understand that you’re fascinated by breasts, but that doesn’t mean you need to talk to a woman looking at her breasts. Check your own actions. Are you making someone feel uncomfortable? Are you standing too close to someone? Is your bag touching anyone while you’re on a public transport? Do some retrospection and decide for yourself how you can make woman feel more comfortable in the office, on the streets, in the markets, on the train, on the bus.

Don’t fight each time or raise a hue and cry each time you’re on the street and you see a women being harassed. We don’t really expect that from men either. That would never work. It would only lead to fights and then that would lead to more fights. But do move a little bit to the left, or to the right, or to the center, if moving a little bit helps a random woman on the train feel a little better from the roving eyes of some ogler.

Small things often go a long way in making someone feel nicer. So do it. Watch out for Street Harassment and devise your own little ways to combat it. We don’t need to fight a world war to solve this issue. Men all by themselves can solve this if they all come together and make a small effort, a small step at a time.

Tbg

@TbgDgc

This post is part of the weekly blog series by male allies. We need men involved in the work to end the social acceptability of street harassment and to stop the practice, period. If you’d like to contribute to this weekly series, please contact me.


A male ally in New Delhi, India, speaks out – part 2

February 24, 2011

[Editor’s Note: This is part 2 in in a 3 part series. Here is part 1 and you can read part 3 tomorrow]

Another incident. This happened on the train in New Delhi, India. This is a Metro train service within New Delhi region city limits, the same as the BART in San Francisco. I seldom travel on the train to anywhere, I really feel very uncomfortable in the crowds. I had some fever and cough the day before, and the cough medicine had made me really drowsy, so I thought it best not to drive myself. That’s how I ended up in the train. After a full day at work, I was really tired and anxious to get home.

Luckily, I got a seat. Which was really good, because the Tylenol I took last was 8 hours ago and I needed another one soon. There’s a station in New Delhi which is called the Rajiv Chowk Metro station which is like the main station in New Delhi area. There are a lot of people who go through this station everyday and it’s a major junction to take trains to other parts of the city too. If you’re in a train that isn’t crowded, expect it to become very crowded at this station. And that was what happened. A lot of people got on the train. I was still sitting. There was this young lady standing close to where I was sitting. Usually I get up and offer my seat to just about anyone, but that point of time I was really feeling very beat with the fever. As the crowd increased, the girl moved closer and closer to where I was sitting. A middle aged guy carrying a laptop bag was standing very close to her. The lady was standing facing me looking out the window, and the guy was behind her. In a while I could very well make out that the guy was rubbing his crotch on the girl’s back, and the girl was becoming very uncomfortable. I could easily make out what he’s doing because I was sitting and could see his waist at eye level. I promptly got up and gave my seat to the young lady and stood facing the guy. I very politely asked him what he was doing, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear. I could not help but scream “Why were you standing that close to the girl?” I guess that was when some other people realized that the guy must have been doing something really bad and he was promptly handed over to the Metro Authorities at the next station. The girl did what girls should (recommended in Indian society) She vanished. I guess in the midst of all the commotion, she somehow got down the train and took another one or made her way out of the station and gotten home somehow.

You must understand how India works. If the guy had managed to catch a good look at her, he would have tried to keep a look out for her in the future. That would not have been a very good idea. I strongly feel it was a good idea for the girl to vanish in the midst of all the commotion.

Let’s have a brief look at the middle aged guy’s tryst with the law. The Metro authorities would have made him sit for a while. Some officer would have then tried to talk to him for a few moments. The guy would have pointed out that it was very crowded and it was impossible to stand without being really close to the girl. And the officer would have probably let him go or would have taken a few hundred rupees from him to let him go. And case closed. The next day, the middle aged guy would probably have been on another train somewhere in the city doing the same thing all over again.

Another time, it was raining, and this girl was sitting behind another guy on a motorcycle. The girls pants got wet in the rain and her thighs were very visible. These other two guys were constantly staring at her legs. The girl was becoming uncomfortable. The guy with the girl did try to ride away but the traffic in the market was dense and he couldn’t go anywhere quickly. I was in my car noticing all of this. As soon as the traffic opened in front of me, I swerved a little to the left, hit the two guys who were staring with my fender and raced away. Looking in my rear view mirror, I could see they fell down on the road.

The incident in the Super market is not a rare one. It happens everyday, all over the world. Girls wear short dresses or long dresses, they wear revealing clothes or are covered from head to toe, Men do stare. They ogle and they stare and they do no try to hide the mental undressing that they are doing in their mind too.

The incident in the fast food place is also not rare. It too, happens everyday. The incident in the Metro train is probably repeated thousands of times in every public transport all over the world too. And what would you do in the rains? What do you want women to do? Do you expect all of them to stay indoors or stop wearing light colored clothes?

[Come back tomorrow to read Part 3, with Tbg’s advice to men]

Tbg

@TbgDgc


Street Harassment Snapshot: February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011

Read stories, news articles, blog posts, and tweets about street harassment from the past week and find relevant announcements and upcoming street harassment events.

Street Harassment Stories:

I accept street harassment submissions from anywhere in the world. Share your story!

You can read new street harassment stories on the Web from the past week at:

Street Harassment in the News, on the Blogs:

Events:

Announcements:

New:

On-going:

10 Tweets from the Week: