The Pune techie didn't escape strangulation. But she was a brave woman. She fought back. She said NO.
The awful murder of Pune Infosys IT professional, Rasila Raju by the office security guard, for unwanted attention ie eve-teasing, is another tragedy in a long list of similar calamities.
The victim was brave enough to stand up for herself before she was strangled. Indeed she inspires the women of our country to fight back and say NO!
So many women in India are victims of molestation, groping, sexual assault and rape. They have even been blamed for it. While the accused have been sometimes let off with just a strict warning.
Eve-teasing is absolutely common and a menace women face on a daily basis on trains, buses or while simply walking down the street.
Unfortunately, it is glorified in our movies. Eve-teasers are shown pursuing a girl and finally winning her over.
Movies in the 1980s depicted the hero wrongly teasing a girl, surrounded by his gang of friends.
Lyrics of Hindi film songs objectify women like 'Main toh ladki ghuma raha tha (I was taking the girl for a ride)' and 'Main toh tandoori murgi hu yaar, gatka le saiyyan alcohol se (I am a chicken tandoori, have me with alcohol).'
In Hum, Amitabh Bachchan is seen singing 'Jumma chumma de de' with his leering goons. He gets the desired result.
Now the same Amitabh Bachchan in Pink declares: When a woman says NO it means NO!
These were his words: 'These boys must realise that NO ka matlab, NO hota hai. Use bolne wali ladki koi parichit ho, friend ho, girlfriend ho, koi sex worker ho ya aapki apni biwi hi kyu na ho. NO means NO, and when someone says NO, you stop (these boys must realise that no means a no. Even if the person saying it is an acquaintance, friend, girlfriend, sex worker or your own wife. No means a no, and when someone says a no, you stop)!'
This is the way forward.
The mindset of Indian youths needs to change to help them realise that no woman enjoys being eve-teased.
She does not like this kind of attention which amounts to persecution. It causes her immense trauma.
If the lady in question says NO. If she avoids you. Rejects your company. Then it's time to gracefully accept the answer and go away.
Understand a victim's trauma
The physical trauma like close body contact -- sometimes in intimate places -- is terrible. The mental agony can be even more unbearable.
The damage to a woman's psyche can be long-lasting or permanent. She might become suicidal. The humiliation, self-loathing and degradation she feels afterwards is harmful.
She may blame herself and look at her own body as a source of unwanted attention.
Society too may, at times, hurt the woman by shifting the blame on her by calling her a temptress.
The victim may henceforth avoid close contact with men and is fearful of any sort of touch from them. She may not want to leave the comfort of her home.
She may avoid travelling by a certain route/area and get palpitations or become uneasy at the mere mention of the accused.
She may also faces social isolation as well as damage to her self-respect and dignity as a human being.
There are various forms of eve-teasing. Touching, groping, pinching, whistling, staring, photography or videos, flashing and cat-calling.
Eve-teasing also includes verbal teasing, lewd gestures and physical touch.
Often the tormentor keeps the victim quiet by threatening to have the video or photograph of her go viral. He may also continue to hurt her and promise further harm with the help of his goons if she takes any action.
How to fight eve-teasing?
A self-defense class is a good idea. Ensure you have a pepper spray in your bag always.
Maintain a list of emergency helpline numbers on your cell reachable by speed dialling.
Should you be under attack in this manner immediately try and get help from friends or people nearby.
Call the authorities if you are on the campus of your school, college or work area. Register a complaint at the nearest police station and do not back out fearing society pressure.
Please understand that as per the Indian Penal Code obscene gestures, indecent body language and acidic comments directed at any woman/girl is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for one year or a fine or both.
There are many support groups, helplines and organisations working in the support of victims of eve-teasing.
Kavita Mungi is a mental health counselor. She has a masters in education (MEd) and a PG diploma in school counselling.