Eve-teasing is a euphemism used in India, Pakistan, (and sometimes Nepal and Bhutan) for public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men, with use of the word "Eve" being a reference to the biblical Eve, the first woman. Considered a problem related to delinquency in youth, it is a form of sexual aggression that ranges in severity from sexually suggestive remarks, brushing in public places and catcalls to outright groping. Sometimes it is referred to with a coy suggestion of innocent fun, making it appear innocuous with no resulting liability on the part of the perpetrator. Some non-governmental organisations have suggested that the expression be replaced by a more appropriate term. According to them, considering the semantic roots of the term in Indian English, Eve teasing refers to the temptress nature of Eve, placing responsibility on the woman as a tease.
Sexual harassment by strangers, as with any type of harassment, has been a notoriously difficult crime to prove, as perpetrators often devise ingenious ways to harass women, even though Eve teasing usually occurs in public spaces, streets, and public transport. Some feminist writers claim that this behaviour is a kind of "little rape". Some guidebooks to the region warn female tourists to avoid attracting the attention of these kinds of men by wearing conservative clothing. However, this harassment is reported both by Indian women and by conservatively dressed foreign women.
The problem first received public and media attention in the 1970s. In the following decades, more and more women started going to college and working independently, meaning that they were often no longer accompanied by a male escort as had been the norm in traditional society. In response, the problem grew to alarming proportions, despite this not being the case in other cultures where women go and come as they please. Soon the Indian government had to take remedial measures, both judicial and law enforcement, to curb the practice. Efforts were made to sensitize the police about the issue, and police started rounding up Eve teasers. The deployment of plain-clothed female police officers for the purpose has been particularly effective; other measures taken in various states by the police were setting up of dedicated women's helplines in various cities, police stations staffed by women, and special police cells.
Also seen during this period was a marked rise in the number of women coming forward to report cases of sexual harassment, due to changing public opinion against this practice. In addition, the severity of these incidents grew as well, in some cases leading to acid throwing, which in turn led to states like Tamil Nadu making it a non-bailable offence. The number of women's organisation and those working for women's rights also increased, and during this period reports of bride burning increased. The increase in the number of violent incidents involving women meant previously lackadaisical attitudes towards women's rights had to be revised and supported by law. In the coming years, certain organisations played a key role in lobbying for the passing of legislation designed to protect women from aggressive behaviour from strangers, including 'The Delhi Prohibition of Eve-teasing Bill 1984'.
The death of a female student, Sarika Shah, in Chennai in 1998, resulted in some tough laws to counter the problem in South India. After murder charges were brought, about a half-dozen reports of suicide have been attributed to pressures caused by this behaviour. In February 2009, female students from M.S. University (MSU) Vadodara assaulted four young men near the family and community sciences faculty, after the men made lewd comments about a girl student staying in SD Hall hostel.
Many other cases go unreported for fear of reprisals and exposure to public shame. In some cases police let the offenders go, after public humiliation through the murga punishment. In 2008, a Delhi court ordered a 19-year-old youth caught making lewd remarks to passing females to distribute 500 handbills to youngsters outside schools and colleges detailing the consequences of indecent conduct .
Depiction in popular culture
Some depictions in Indian cinema shows mild teasing as a part of flirtatious beginnings of a courtship, along with the usual accompaniment of song and dance routines, which invariably results in the heroine submitting to the hero's advances towards the end of the song, and young men tend to emulate the example, depicted so flawlessly on screen and which gave rise to the Roadside Romeo, which even made it a film version in Roadside Romeo (2007).
It also has been popularly depicted that when a girl is teased in this way, the hero will come and beat the guy up, such as in the Telugu films Madhumasam and Magadheera and also the Hindi film Wanted. Nowadays, this issue is also featured in Indian television soaps like Savdhaan India @ 11 & Crime Patrol
Although Indian law doesn't use the term 'Eve Teasing', victims earlier usually seek recourse through Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, which sentences a man found guilty of making a girl or woman the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation to a maximum jail sentence of three months. Section 292 of the IPC clearly spells out that showing pornographic or obscene pictures, books or papers to a woman or girl results in a fine of Rs.2000 with two years imprisonment for first offenders. In the case of a repeated offence, the offender may have a fine of Rs.5000 with five years imprisonment imposed. Under Section 509 of the IPC, obscene gestures, indecent body language and negative comments directed at any woman or girl or exhibiting any object which intrudes upon the privacy of a woman, carries a penalty of imprisonment for one year or a fine or both. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 introduced changes to the Indian Penal Code, making sexual harassment an expressed offence under Section 354 A, which is punishable up to three years of imprisonment and or with fine. The Amendment also introduced new sections making acts like disrobing a woman without consent, stalking and sexual acts by person in authority an offence.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) also proposed No 9. Eve Teasing (New Legislation) 1988. The Indian Parliament has passed The The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which add protections for female workers in most workplaces. The Act came into force from 9 December 2013.
‘Fearless Karnataka’ or ‘Nirbhaya Karnataka’ is a coalition of many individuals and groups including ‘Alternative Law Forum’, ‘Blank Noise’, ‘Maraa’, ‘Samvada’ and ‘Vimochana’. After the rise of eve teasing cases in the 2000s, it organised several public awareness campaigns, including 'Take Back the Night’, followed by another public art project titled, The Blank Noise Project, starting in Bangalore in 2003. A similar program to fight eve-teasing was also hosted in Mumbai in 2008.
In Delhi, one of India's most dangerous cities for women, the Department of Women and Child Development established a steering committee in 2009 to prepare the city for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010.
In Mumbai, Ladies Special train compartments have been introduced to allow women to travel without the fear of being sexually harassed, for the length of the journey at least. Given that the number of women needing to travel has doubled since 1995, there is a very strong demand for these kinds of services. Today "Ladies Special" Compartments are present in most local trains in big cities.
Eve-teasing is highly criticized by the media and have initiated many angry remarks on social media sites like Facebook.
- Smriti Lakhey, "Eve Teasing", Wave # 55, July 2000.
- Eve Teasing The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, by Grant Barrett. Published by McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006. ISBN 0-07-145804-2. Page 109.
- Eve-Teasing Image Makers: An Attitudinal Study of Indian Police, by Giriraj Shah. Published by Abhinav Publications, 1993 ISBN 81-7017-295-0. Page 233-234.
- Lewd nature goes unchecked Kanpur, The Times of India, 26 February 2009.
- Controlling eve-teasing The Hindu, Tuesday, 13 April 2004.
- Harassment in public places a routine for many The Times of India, Jaipur, 15 February 2009.
- Eve teasing The Elephant, the Tiger, and the Cell Phone: India: The Emerging 21st-Century Power, by Shashi Tharoor, Published by Arcade Pub., 2007. ISBN 1-55970-861-1. Page 454-455.
- Laws and Legislative Measures Affecting Women by National Commission for Women (NCW) National Commission for Women (NCW).
- Sexual Harassment Indian Feminisms: Law, Patriarchies and Violence in India, by Geetanjali Gangoli. Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-7546-4604-1.Page 63-64.
- In Public Spaces: Security in the Street and in the Chowk Women, Security, South Asia: A Clearing in the Thicket, by Farah Faizal, Swarna Rajagopalan. Published by SAGE, 2005. ISBN 0-7619-3387-5. Page 45.
- Rethinking Violence Against Women, by Russell Dobash, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Published by SAGE, 1998. ISBN 0-7619-1187-1. Page 58.
- "India – Practical information – Health & Safety". Lonelyplanet.com. Lonely Planet.
- "India – Tips for Women Travelers". Frommer's. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- Eve teasing in India: Assault or harassment by another name, by Nidhi Dutt, BBC, 13 January 2012.
- "Eve-Teasing". Time. 12 September 1960.
- Citations of the word which show it dates to at least as early as 1960
- Eve teasing Women Police in a Changing Society: Back Door to Equality, by Mangai Natarajan. Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008. ISBN 0-7546-4932-6. Page 54.
- Special squad to nab eve teasers formed in Kerala
- Special team to check roadside romeos in Allahabad Majnu Ka Pinjra, Indopia, 20 February 2009.[dead link]
- Murder charges in eve-teasing case Indian Express, Monday, 27 July 1998.
- MSU hostel girls beat up eve teasers The Times of India, 23 February 2009.
- Public prosecution: Crime and instant punishment! The Times of India, 29 June 2006.
- Youth held for eve-teasing, told to distribute handouts Indian Express News Service, 10 June 2008.
- Eve teasing Encyclopaedia of Social Change, by Laxmi Devi. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2004. ISBN 81-7488-161-1. Page 159-160.
- Sexual 6369363Harassment Indian Feminisms: Law, Patriarchies and Violence in India, by Geetanjali Gangoli. Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-7546-4604-1.Page 63.
- Women's Day special: Not just eve-teasing! Deccan Herald, Saturday, 7 March 2009.
-  Rediff.com, 4 March 2008.
- Statistics on metros from the National Crime Records Bureau, India
- Delhi Versus "Eve Teasers": a Race Against Time, Ketaki Gokhale, Wall Street Journal, 14-Sep-2009
- Mumbai's Ladies Special train leaves the commuter sex pests behind, Helen Alexander and Rhys Blakel, Times Online UK, 14-Oct-2009
- Crimes Against Women and Protective Laws, by Shobha Saxena. Published by Deep & Deep Publications, 1995.
- Sexual Harassment: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives, by Alison M. Thomas, Celia Kitzinger. Published by Open University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-335-19580-6.
- Chapt. 10: "Sexual Harassment In India: A Case Study of Eve-Teasing in Historical Perspective". Rethinking Sexual Harassment, by Clare Brant, Yun Lee Too. Published by Pluto Press, 1994. ISBN 0-7453-0838-4. Page 200.
- Eveteasing In India And Tortious Liabilities – Author – B.Jyoti Kiran – Legal perspectives
- Vishakha V. State Of Rajasthan (JT 1997 (7) SC 384) Govt. of Tamil Nadu.