Dean Nelson, Delhi, Times Online, UK
THE TEENAGE daughter of a senior British diplomat was on a rickshaw in Delhi when a young man ran up and, in front of her mother and friends, grabbed one of her breasts.
She was shocked and angry but there was nothing she could do about it. She was just another victim of “eve teasing”, a coy term used in India to describe being molested in public by a stranger.
The practice is increasing, according to police. Campaigners claim the government does not take the problem seriously and have called for a new law.
At present, groping a woman is an offence only if the prosecution can prove that the incident “outraged her modesty”. Now a group calling itself the Coalition Against Street Harassment is arguing that the definition is too vague and allows a defendant to claim that the victim provoked him by wearing immodest clothes.
The coalition has urged victims to photograph their attackers and post the pictures on the internet.
The coalition’s founder, Jasmeen Patheja, 26, an artist from Bangalore, believes attitudes are beginning to change. “Gradually we’ve stopped apologising,” she said. “Women are articulating their experiences.”
She carries a camera everywhere. “I was travelling on a crowded bus with a friend in Bangalore recently and this person held on to me. He had his hand on my breast. I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘It’s a crowded bus’. So I photographed him. We got off at the same stop. He said, ‘Please do not do this, I have a wife and two children’.”
The man’s photograph was duly posted on Patheja’s campaign website.
The coalition has won support from Sunil Mehra, editor of the Indian edition of the British “lads’ mag” Maxim, who said eve teasing was increasing because India remained a “sexually repressive culture”.
Khushboo, a leading Bollywood actress, said: “Eve teasing is a serious issue. Too many men take pleasure in seeing women humiliated.”