Women’s Harassment

Women’s Harassment

As women become more visible in public lives and venture out of their homes, they face a whole host of issues. Prominent in this hierarchy of issues is harassment in public spheres- work places, public transport, even homes and other public spaces. One rather infamous form of harassment is what is called in the sub continent as “eve teasing”- that is, the making of lewd remarks and advances to women in public spaces. Often times, women and even girls suffer in silence this form of overt abuse by their male tormentors. There are , as alluded to, overt and subtle forms of harassment of women. Eve teasing and other similar forms of abuse are rather overt; less obvious and more subtle is the abuse and harassment suffered by women at their work places and even homes. An example might illustrate the nature and form of this abuse. A male colleague, especially, if he is in a position of authority and influence can make suggestions of a sexual nature to a female colleague or subordinate, through either innuendo or obvious forms. The female has either the option of succumbing, resisting or suffering in silence. Most often women, in a cultural context like ours, suffer in silence because resisting carries the potential tag of a “bad” reputation. (Instances of women either committing suicide or quitting have come out in the recent past in the public domain on account of persistent and sustained harassment). Similarly, women can face harassment at their homes. This form of harassment usually pertains to demands of dowry and allied themes). The sad part is that women who bear the brunt of harassment and abuse do not usually have social or even support by various administrations. Obtuse laws, lax implementation and fear of public exposure all add up to structures of power and authority-social, cultural and others-, slanted against women who suffer abuse. What, the question is, the remedy and the cure to this odious phenomenon? A multipronged effort and initiative from society that delegitimizes and even criminalizes all forms of harassment of women would be a good start. This could and should be followed by strict and exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of harassment. Last but not the least, women , who bear the brunt of harassment and abuse, should not shy away from articulating the abuse they are subject to and identifying the perpetrators.

 

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