Eve teasing is street sexual harassment. It could be considered to be a joke or prank for many but the “eves” have taken a stand. Blank Noise is an organization that seeks to recognize eve teasing as a street sexual harassment and establish it as an issue.
Much furore has been raised in the past on the same and it surely has made people more aware of the seriousness of eve teasing. What started out as a student project at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology in Bangalore has now spread out to other cities in India. The project works with the victims, the perpetrators and spectators of street sexual harassment and hopes to bring a change in the public perception of eve teasing, which is still largely considered a minor problem. The greatest hitch lies in the fact that very few victims register complaints with the police, and this reflects the social and cultural barriers that prevent women from seeking justice. Mohnish says, “I say public humiliation, TV ads, posters in public places, distribution of fliers is a must. People should be made to realize that there is nothing 'cool' about teasing, embarrassing, and harassing women.”
“I believe that the earlier experiences of the 'covering up' ritual at home and school seemed to me like eve teasing and very embarrassing. I was certainly not supported by the 'elders' for clothes I wanted. If I do go out on the street daring to wear what I want all prophesies come true. For example on the 17th of August 2008, a day after Rakshabandhan! I was returning from Shirdi in a bus. I had felt my hair on my neck bristle as I could feel the stares following me as I brushed my teeth and jostled with luggage on the bus. As I sat reading, a certain hand was encroaching on my hand from the side of the window. My immediate reaction was (denial) that maybe the person behind me had fallen asleep. I saw the hand slither back acknowledging my knowing. I didn't know what to do! Yell, call the conductor who would grin at me? Most people were dozing on the bus. Raise a ruckus to have the guy deny he did anything. I waited for us to cross the Baroda expressway. I tried to continue reading the book, in vain. All my doubts were put away when I could hear a drumming on the back of my seat. At that moment thankfully I felt I had nothing to lose and shut my book and stood in my chair. The stories I had read at Blank Noise came rushing. I addressed the guy loudly enough to wake up the bus, 'Bhaiya apko bus mein bhetna nahi aata? apne haath apne paas rakho ya peeche ja ke betho Or should I call the conductor.'(Brother don't you know how to sit in a bus? and keep your hands to yourself or go and sit away') The lady next to me woke up. The guy shook his head in denial. Having said what came to me then in a straight voice I didn't know how to reach out and slap the guy. There were many 'brothers' and 'sisters' sitting beside me, behind me, ahead of me, right in front of me, lying in their cloister groups. The guy got off at the next station and he is going to do it again when he gets a chance. Very soon. And it makes me angry.” said Jazz in a blog entry.
Lewd songs and whistles greet you. But one walks on. Men paw you in the crowded bus, it irritates you. But you do nothing about it. The auto driver shifts in his seat and adjusts the rear view mirror to have a better glimpse of you. But you just choose to stare out. Men on vehicles peep into the auto, pass dirty remarks and speed away. There is a gasp but what the heck, life goes on. Blank Noise’s reply is ‘You did not ask for it.’
Instances of eve teasing are plenty. And there is a slight shift in the Blank Noise range of affairs. This organization primarily was to do with women but Blank Noise firmly believes that street sexual harassment is as much a male issue as it is one concerning women because it is influenced by male behaviour, attitude and expression.
With this thought they have announced "Blank Noise Guy”, inviting males to share their experiences on being in public. It could range from the fear of being seen as a perpetrator; how he approached a female stranger (if he ever did); being attracted to a stranger and what he did or witnessing harassment and introspecting on his response.
An 'ex perpetrator' puts forth,
‘Age 14 .I was going in a bus and it was not very crowded. I was standing behind a girl who was a little older and probably someone from the lower middle class. I accidentally touch her back with my front. But then I did not move away and did that again. She realized it, moved away and I was pretty embarrassed that I had even attempted that.
Someone making advances at you in a crowded place is not `fun'.