A Reminder to Behave
Recently, the UP police sent a reminder SMS to all the men it had records of as eve-teasers or sexual harassers. All those listed as eve-teasers in the police records were supposed to get the following message “You and your phone are still under observation. Hope your conduct is upright now. We wish you a Happy New Year” just before we started with 2016.
Apparently, this was just an ‘aide-mémoire’ to all these offenders that the police have all their records straight and are on the lookout in case anyone decides to get carried away this new year’s eve.
In addition to this, all the women who had registered a complaint were also sent a message reassuring them that the police were ever ready to help them.
It was a great effort and steps like these though might seem quite trivial such as the reaction you may give to an alert or a message prompt from customer service operations. However, such small steps play a huge role at the psychological level. Plus, what better way to prevent a crime than to let an offender know that “We ae watching you!”
Eve-teasing includes a wide arena of sexual offences such as harassment of women in public, molestation, jeering, vexatious callers etc.
Such behaviour may be punishable under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 298 (A) and (B) of the IPC states up to three months in prison for improper/obscene conduct.
In fact showing pornographic pictures or flashing of obscene pictures might land a person in jail for as long as 2 years. More severe forms of punishment are meted out to transgressors who might use force or assault or molest a woman. An Eve-Teasing Bill was also passed in 1992
However, in sight of the fact that these laws may be misused by women to falsely incriminate innocent men, these offences are bailable. But even that warrants safety to the offender due to lack of evidence. Thus, the victim usually wants to avoid reporting such cases to the police as the proceedings themselves many a times turn out to be harassment. On top of this, the incriminated is soon released and is back doing the same thing and unleashes a vendetta against the complainer.
The general mind-set of the officer registering the complaint, the ‘reputation’ of the girl and the ‘status’ of the boy are other huge factors which strongly influence in whose favour the case and the storyline are to be reported.
Such prejudices only hinder the deliverance of justice.
In the past few years when the problem of eve-teasing was at its peak, there were numerous awareness campaigns about women helpline numbers and cognizance about sex-offences.
For example the All India Women In Distress number is 1091. There are many other such. These helpline numbers are a great reassurance and are known to work quite efficiently.
Cases of eve-teasing have been on the rapid growth. The Jasleen Kaur case, the frequent harassers on the streets, the Nirbhaya Rape Case, and many more which do not make the headlines are a shame to the country.
Resolution for this year
Sexual harassment of women stems from the nation-wide problem of subjugation of women rights. Even today, after countless women-empowerment campaigns, there still exists a huge gulf between the thinking of generations. The need of the hour demands caution and correction by both the genders. It’s our duty to inculcate in all we know, respect for everyone.
India continues to wage a seemingly endless war against sex-offenders. However, steps such as the SMS reminders and other such strict measures are a ray of hope in this dastardly State of affairs. Let’s hope this year will be better for the women of India.[Image attribute: Giuliamar]