July 7, 2005

"Eve-teasing."

I had never seen that expression -- used in India, for sexual harassment -- until I read this article:
DESPITE a high rate of literacy, it has been observed that local girls and women hesitate to approach the police when it comes to eve-teasing. Even now when someone teases them, they take it as a stigma and find it best to avoid the situation.

Newsline spoke to different sections of people on this issue. Shivali Sharma, a post-graduate student, says, ‘‘Have you heard the case, in which a police constable raped a girl in Mumbai. After hearing such cases, how can a girl even think of approaching the police,’’ she said.

Nidhi Tuli, who has recently done a diploma in export management, says, ‘‘Since childhood, we have been taught to avoid such persons and situations, so I never thought of approaching the police. I don’t even tell report an incident of eve-teasing to my parents and try to ‘solve’ the problem myself.’’

Geetanjali Chhabra, an undergraduate at Khalsa College, says, ‘‘I know there are numerous laws to check eve-teasing but if you approach the police even they start embarrassing you’’.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some discussion of dealing with the police in India leads me to share this story (which has nothing to do with India):
One of the downsides to travel is the strange police ways of another country -- if you should happen to need to encounter them. I got robbed in Rome and, believe me, the police were ridiculous. The criminals -- children who prey on travelers in the train station -- were caught and I had to sit around with them in the office. The kids cried (crocodile tears) and spoke with the cops in Italian. I got bits of it translated. In the end, the cops simply let the kids go and explained to me "They're children." Presumably the police got their cut, because at one point a cop came in with a stack of wallets, including mine. So I did get my wallet back, minus the cash.

9 comments:

Roshan said...

Hmmm... I always assumed that the phrase was part of normal English usage. Apparenty not, according to this wikipedia page:
Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men.

Ann Althouse said...

Roshan: It struck me as quite odd. Americans use "tease" to refer to pretty lighthearted mischief, not something to take to the police. I would have remembered if I'd ever seen that before.

peter hoh said...

I first ran across the term while reading magazines in India. I had to ask my hosts to "translate."

As for the police -- I had one minor traffic accident while driving in India. I assumed that the police needed to file some sort of report. At the station, while all parties sat around waiting to see what nonsense this odd foreigner would insist on, the police captain convinced me that it was best to let it all go. Were he to file a report, both vehicles would have to be impounded at a police building some 20 miles away until all the paperwork was completed.

Roshan said...

Ann: We are so used to seeing the phrase "Eve Teasing" associated with sexual harassment in India, that I never realized how odd it does sound. Many times, we dont even separate the words with a space and use evetease and eveteaser.

Perhaps, this has a clue to the origins of the expression. The eve teasers probably consider what they are doing as nothing more than light hearted mischief. Which is also probably why the police (mostly male) don't do enough about it.

More on the actual origins of the terms here and my related post.

Goesh said...

I wonder what Muslim women call clitorectomy? Button-bumping maybe? Niblet-snipping? Surely there is a clever phrase for it. Oops, this is India we are talking about. I drift so these days.

Ann Althouse said...

Goesh: I'm close to deleting that. Be careful.

Peter: One of the downsides to travel is the strange police ways of another country -- if you should happen to need to encounter them. I got robbed in Rome and, believe me, the police were ridiculous. The criminals -- children who prey on travelers in the train station -- were caught and I had to sit around with them in the office. The kids cried (crocodile tears) and spoke with the cops in Italian. I got bits of it translated. In the end the cops simply let the kids go and explained to me "They're children." Presumably the police got their cut, because at one point a cop came in with a stack of wallets, including mine. So I did get my wallet back, minus the cash.

peter hoh said...

Uck, too, on Goesch's comment. Conflating India with the worst excesses of pre-modern culture betrays ignorance or recklessness.

Indian English is a robust, lively language. As pointed out on doubletongued.org, some of this emerges from the headline writers, who are forced to come up with creative shorthand on a tight deadline.

And feminism is alive and well in India, too. When I was there, I picked up a great, kick-ass feminist magazine whose name excapes me (and a Google search didn't help, unfortunately).

George Eby Mathew said...

I found some more perspectives on the subject at http://indianconscience.blogspot.com written from the indian context. Have a look.

Jasmeen said...

eve teasing also suggests that you are eve- the temptress...that you have provoked the perpetrator to make a sexual advance towards you.

eve teasing, it is perceived as trivial , everyday and normal.

I have been working on the issue of eve teasing..as a public art project in india