‘Ignoring eve-teasers only encourages them’

Most young women in the city usually think twice before going to crowded gatherings due to the fear of eve-teasers on the prowl. With the state government now contemplating to make eve-teasing a non-bailable offence, they can finally hope things will improve.

Maharashtra Minister for Women and Child Welfare Varsha Gaikwad has decided to take this matter up with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and set up a committee comprising social workers and women legislators to examine a draft Bill called the Maharashtra Prohibition of Eve-teasing and Harassment of Women Act, prepared by a Mumbai-based NGO.

Contrary to popular perception that eve-teasers are usually young men in their teens or twenties, there is no age group for eve-teasers nowadays, feels Nilima Tadge, a second year computer science student. "Bus stands, gardens and theatres are the most sensitive areas Roadside Romeos on bikes, passing lewd comments, are a real nuisance at night," she says.

Asked why she never complains, she says, "They are unknown people. Who do we name in the FIR if we want to file one? Besides, we are not comfortable with going to the police. Hence, we ignore it."

However, ignoring eve-teasers is the biggest encouragement to them, says Smita Jadhav, head of the Women's Grievance Redressal Cell. "We conduct lectures in colleges and IT firms regarding the importance of filing complaints whenever any sort of harassment happens. It is very important to stop the harassment at this level, otherwise this leads to bigger crimes against women. But to change the mindset of society against the police is very hard, though there has been an improvement as young girls are now coming forward," says Jadhav.

There is, however, a difference of opinion among the city women on the magnitude of the problem of eve-teasing. While Surabhi Runwal, who works for a CA firm in Deccan, says she avoids crowded places and events like Ganpati visarjans because of the nuisance, Julie Job, a native of Kerala and second year BSc Nursing student in Deccan Education Society's College of Nursing, finds Pune safer compared to other cities.

"In Kerala, even sporting jeans and top will invite unwanted comments from guys. At least in Pune, the magnitude of eve-teasing is less as compared to the situation back home. Plus, if something serious happens inside the campus, we can always approach the college authorities," says Julie.

Over the years, eve-teasing incidents have increased in Pune and even women who are 50 years old are harassed, says Jadhav. "Lack of communication between parents and children and the collective degradation of moral values in the society are the root cause of the increase in crimes against women. Both parents are working these days and hence have very little time for the children due to which the kind of value education that used to be provided by grandparents and others in the family is not there now," she adds.

"Only the fear of strict punishment can stop these miscreants," says Jadhav, welcoming the state government's plan to make the law against eve-teasing non-bailable.

(With PTI )

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