Whoever coined the term 'eve-teasing' clearly was never on the receiving end of this practice. Because eve-teasing is a lot more than just ‘teasing'.
It can leave a feeling akin to a nasty aftertaste in your mouth after you consumed one too many raw onion slices. A slight nagging feeling of disgust and shame that you just cannot shake off for a while.
Be it a crowded bus, a quiet alley, or just about anywhere, the Indian woman is subject to her daily share of leers, cat-calls, lewd comments and in some cases inappropriate touches.
If you are a female anywhere in the age group of 12-50, you will be subjected to some form of eve-teasing or the other. Caste, religion and dress code are no bar - Indian men appear to be surprisingly secular when it comes to this awful hobby or 'time-pass'.
Eve-teasers can be classified into many different types, each more repulsive than the other.
The most common kind of eve-teasers are the Roadside Romeos. They perch themselves on brick walls outside colleges, or at bus stands. They take the concept of 'checking out' the opposite sex to a whole new level.
If you happen to come under their radar (which you most certainly will at some unfortunate moment in your life in India), you will have to endure stares which are deliberately held to ensure your discomfort. Sometimes a cocky grin, a wink or a low whistle might follow.
It’s interesting to note that these same Roadside Romeos who are eager to give you lustful glances strong enough to strip the bark off trees, can get very agitated if a male so much as looks at his sister or mother.
The next group of eve-teasers are the creative minds among the lot - The Commentators.
The Commentators can belt out one cheesy line after another. From a simple comment on how a girl looks right up to the more shocking vulgar jokes on a certain passerby's anatomy. These men comment on girls loud enough for them to hear it adding to the discomfort. As if the incessant staring wasn't bad enough.
Next are the touchy-feely crowd of men. They fumble and finger their way through crowds and life, gaining some kind of 'cheap thrill' from this kind of behaviour.
Where any normal human being dreads the sight of crowded public transport and hallways, it happens to be a haven for the touchy-feely eve-teaser.
The kind of contact they make may be just an 'innocent' brush against your shoulder or side to the more daring grabbing of body parts.These kind of harrassers might be deterred by a glare and sometimes a bit of elbowing. For the more determined ones, a well placed pin prick (yes I have resorted to this), or a nice hard stamp with your heels (again tried and tested by yours truly) might come in handy.
Lastly, we come to the group of very sexually frustrated group of eve-teasers.
They resort to gimmicks bordering on an almost evil and deviant nature. Flashing in public or deliberately leaving their fly open in the company of women to name, are examples of their modus operandi. I once had the misfortune of bearing witness to an obnoxious middle aged man who had left his fly open in a fairly populated train compartment and had the gall to sit through the entire journey pretending that nothing was the matter. The horror!
What’s more shocking is that many eve-teasers are not the teenage boys with their raging hormones. Middle-aged and elder men who seem perfectly respectable at first sight can be observed resorting to these practices.
Although a lot of this attitude is changing, owing to the growing boldness and awareness among women, it is changing at a painfully slow rate. The vast majority of Indian men still need to learn to respect a woman’s' private space and curb their curiosity and sexual interests.