In a country like ours’, I’ve always wondered why some women are targeted when it comes to eve teasing, ragging or misbehaving. India, is a land of strange contradictions. Here, people worship gods in the form of a woman, yet, as in other countries, cases of women being exploited is also no less here either. This cannot be generalized though. Back in college, I always used to feel very sorry for the girls who were the victims of ragging. But it was not until my best friend was at the receiving end of this menace, that I decided to study this problem more seriously. And when I did, I realized that many of these instances of eve teasing, molestation, etc., could have been avoided if only the girls involved, handled the situation better. ‘Woman safety’ now mattered like never before. This write up of mine is for all the women out there and for all the men whose lives are incomplete without their mothers, girl friends, daughters, wives and sisters. In other words, a woman completes a man.
Without sounding preachy, I would like to share with you girls, some time & eve teasers tested Dos & Don’ts. Let’s start with first things first.
1. Dress fashionably, not vulgarly
Many a times, your elders at home would have advised you to dress appropriately, because you are a woman (like as if we don’t know it already) and that we come with some limitations of our own. I have hated the term ‘limitation’ each time it was used. Is being attractive, a limitation then? No. But, we need be our best judges to decide how much & what kind of attention is a healthy attention, depending on various factors like local mindset, morally sensitive areas, work places etc. Admit it girls, men find us irresistible. It’s therefore on us to ensure just how irresistible we want to be or appear. I strongly believe that a girl can look vulgar even when she’s draped herself in a saree or look elegant & decent in a pair of denim and a tee, depending on how she is wearing them. Your style of dressing must draw appreciative looks from men, not lust filled ones. Remember, it’s NOT cool to have guys ogling or letching at you. There’s a thin line that separates being sexy from looking vulgar. Dressing up in a sexy way when you are with a group of your trusted friends, is completely fine. But doing so, when you have none to keep you company (esp. a man) & have plans on staying out late into the night, can be fool hardiness. It’s like inviting trouble with a welcoming red carpet. This is not a great idea, even if you plan on taking a cab back home, ‘cos the drivers of these cars are not immune to seduction. There have been several instances of cab drivers molesting their women passengers and worse raping and murdering them thereafter. Therefore, try not to invoke the lust monster in men who mean nothing to you.
2. Avoid conflicts, when time is not in your favor
Try and avoid conflicts or heated arguments with cabbies or auto rickshaw drivers, especially when you are alone or when late at night or when both. Getting into arguments with men like these are to be best avoided, esp. when late in the night, as most of these guys would by then be intoxicated and could retaliate by inflicting physical harm to you. During any heated argument, people always try to identify the opponent’s weakness, so he may get a chance to win against him. In your case, you are a girl & just like how strength & weakness are two sides of the same coin, you are currently on the ‘weak’ side in times like these, and these men know it. Prying in groups, cab drivers are best left alone. During a verbal conflict with them, they could gang up on you and if one chooses to slap, the other might try to physically abuse you, just so you may want to end the argument and leave the scene at the earliest. At times like these, even if you are right, it’s best you don’t hang around to prove it. Not unless you have somebody with you, again, preferably a male companion(s).
No. I’m not asking you to back up like a coward. I’m just asking you to use more of your grey matter where you can’t match the brawn. Instead of taking on the mob at midnight, quietly jot down the cab number & the driver’s name (in case he’s flaunting his name badge) and get him to books in the sanity of the day, which should not be very difficult at all. If they thought they were smart, show them who’s smarter. Real strength is all about conquering your weakness and your limitations.
3. Make eye contact
When in crowded public places, there are high chances that you come across all sorts people. Of those some may also be perverts, you never know. A study has shown that by establishing eye contact with people, you are sending a sub conscious message to the other person, that you do not perceive them as a threat. When public speaking, the speaker is often advised to make eye contact with his audience, as doing so will immediately put him at ease. The same needs to be applied here too. In case, you feel uneasy about the presence of some guy or the way he is looking at you, never ever escape looking at him. Instead, hold your ground and meet his eye. The message would be delivered to him, in bold letters- that you don’t fear him. This works more often than not, ‘cos the more you avoid him or try to run away from such guys, the more you come across as a weak, meek girl who is easy to be messing around with. And pervert men would want a girl just like that, some one who fears him, for they see it as an act of submission. Making a direct eye contact with such guys will immediately destroy any such misconceptions that he might have.
4. Avoid wardrobe disasters
Okay, this might be too direct & straight to the point, but there’s no point beating around the bush either. Be careful with how & what you wear on the inside. Wear lingerie that actually serve it’s purpose. To throw better light on what I’m trying to arrive at here, picture a rainy night, a girl wearing an ill fitting bra running behind a bus, desperately trying to make it into it. Also picture a pervert at the same deserted bus station. Can there be a more disastrous recipe for trouble? Well, I don’t think so. Please remind yourself that not all men you come across are gentlemen. Had it been so, then the world would have been a better place to be living in. There are also men around you, who could get titillated at the drop of a hat. Take care to avoid getting their unwanted attention. So, ensure your brassiere fits you fine, without allowing for revelations of any sort and also be very careful with see through dresses. You might not want men of all types to get a sneak peek at what you actually look like underneath your clothes. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…
5. Be defense-ready
If you happen to be a working woman, and traveling back home at nights are a part of your job, then taking adequate precautions help. Never take yourself for granted ‘cos you are too precious for the ones who love you. Women are so busy making lives around them better, that they sometimes forget to stop and think about themselves. This way, they fail to take care of their own safety. So, pause and introspect- are your safety measures up to date? Learning martial arts or self-defense techniques are a biggest blessing to a woman. If not trained in these, then always carry a pepper spray with you, because trouble is famously known for coming without a warning and then you’d better be safe than sorry. A Swiss knife is also another great must have to ensure your safety. Just keeping them in your bag & forgetting about it, would not serve the purpose. Use it and practice using it skillfully, get your aims right. Get used to carrying them in your bag, so you wont forget about their existence in the face of a molester or a potential rapist. The saddest thing to happen would be to carry a pepper spray but then forgetting to use it, just because you were either too scared or shocked to use it!
6. At college
As much as you are eager to make that first, right impression on the first day of your college, going over board by dressing up revealingly can have just the opposite effect. Not only would it make you more susceptible to ragging but also you’d be drawing unwanted attention from your seniors. Dress in way that is both fashionable and decent. The big boys would then be wanting to take you home to get you meet their mommies instead of visualizing you naked or violating you. Look at the seniors and establish eye contact. Never shy away from making an eye contact. I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again- making eye contact is a very powerful aspect of body language where you are actually communicating a sense of confidence about yourself. Make sure that eye contact does not in any way appear hostile, but instead should express friendliness and feminine vulnerability. This will make the big, bad boys want to protect you, rather than trouble you. A complete contradiction! I knew of a certain girl in my college, who had mastered this art. She courageously approached the gang of seniors (much to their amusement) who she had mentally perceived to be a potential problem & complained to them, of a certain guy who was stalking her around. That was it, the hearts of these big, bad guys melted in an instant, like butter on a heated pan and the same guys who were once casting dirty & lustful looks at her, now felt very protective of her. She did it, she had conquered their lust and made them her friends! Sure enough, the guy who was stalking our girl, received a warning so menacing from this gang of seniors, that he dared not defy it. Talk about felling two apples with a single stone (since i happen to be an animal lover, i chose to change the popular adage to something that sounds less cruel).
7. Respect morally sensitive places: how much is too much?
When visiting morally sensitive places like temples, churches etc., ensure you dress appropriately. You, like many others would have visited such places to pay your respects and offer prayers with a peaceful mind. Dressing revealingly at such places is a big no-no, for it is seen as a mark of disrespect to the holy place. Remember, when in Rome, dress like a Roman. And for the sake of the God inside, you are not there to grab eyeballs or as a show stopper! If you want such attention, then such holy places are not for you, you need to hit the ramp. You could be an object of distraction to the women and an adulteration in the minds of men who are at religious places.
You also need to be sensitive about your dressing style when visiting a rural place that is less exposed to fashion. In such places, even a little skin show could cause quite a flutter and titillation, causing unwanted troubles thereafter. For them, even little is too much, as they are not exposed to latest fashions trends and skin shows. Respect their views and culture by dressing sensibly.
8. Never be a silent sufferer
Almost every woman i know of, has been a victim of physical abuse or violation at some point of time in their lives. While some choose to suffer in silence (in the names of shame & embarrassment) and encourage the exploiter, there are others who do not take things lying low. There was this friend of mine, who was once traveling in a sleeper bus. Much to her shock, after the lights of the bus went off, she felt a hand creep up from behind her and feel its way up to her chest. Never the one to keep quiet, she pinched the violating hand so hard, that a part of his skin was peeled off and a seesh of pain escaped from him, before he quickly withdrew his hands off her. As expected, sensing larger trouble, the faceless molester, alighted the bus at the very next stop. She was one of these rare types. Many other girls are too shocked to react and suffer silently at the hands of their molester, if cornered. This is the worst thing you could do, ‘cos you are encouraging and emboldening your molester. Never allow a molester to violate you. Raise a hue and cry & yes, scream. Draw every possible attention of the public that you can on the cowardly molester. It will give a message loud and clear to him- that you are ‘no meek weakling who’ll take things lying low’. This will not only scare him away but will also discourage him from making future such attempts on other girls. Let the episode remain in his mind as a bad memory forever, so he’d dare not act fresh with any other girl again.
9. Safe with a stranger
There will always be times, when you might have to travel in a cab or a rickshaw alone. If this also happens to be an unfamiliar route, destination and your driver happens to know that, there might be a chance for trouble. At times like that, you make a note of the vehicle number and message the same to your loved ones back home. It is the wisest thing to do. I remember reading in a daily, about how a rapist cum murderer was nabbed after the cops found his vehicle number text-messaged by the victim to her friend. The poor girl had payed with her life, but she ensured many others did not suffer the same plight by aiding his capture. Some women help save lives even in their deaths.
Never trust a stranger, no matter how straight he appears on the exterior. Do not reveal too much about yourself, too soon to a new friend or an acquaintance. You never know how this information could be used. Also, refrain from talking loudly (even over the phone) about your personal life, like you being home alone or sharing your address, mobile number etc., in public or while commuting in a public mode of transport. Not only would you appear too dumb to be true, but it would also prove suicidal .
10. Dealing with abusive men in your life
He could be your brother, boyfriend or your husband. If these men in your life are abusive to the extent of doing physical harm to you, then you need to be doing some serious thinking about the whole relationship & it’s future. ReaL men never abuse their women. But, should you happen to be in a relationship with one such a guy, and should there ever be a fight between the two of you, then never chose a secluded place to resolve your issues. Most women care about what others think, worry about the embarrassment that follows ‘cos of yelling in public and therefore prefer fighting it out in private, but when in an abusive relationship- more seclusion only means more harm and battering. Always choose to resolve your differences in a place where there are many others around you guys too. Just so that, in case your fight takes an ugly turn, there would be people around to either come to your rescue or make your abusive man conscious about his wild ways. A dinner in a restaurant, a play ground would be a better location to take your hatchets out & fight, than at deserted places or in the privacy of your home and later find yourself with a broken nose, a twisted arm, or worse. These same abusive men would be forced to curb their anger or instinctive, brash behavior when amidst other people, whereas there will be no holding them back, when they are assured of all the privacy in the world.
Break-ups are another instance that call for women safety. It is best done in a place where there are others around you both, for most of the times, couples don’t part after planting kisses on each others cheeks. It usually follows after a heated exchange of words, blame-game etc. Some possessive boyfriends simply won’t let you go and can threaten you of dire consequences, should the break up be initiated by you. If the break up is eminent and you have made up your mind to part ways with this man, then do it on a very diplomatic way. Do not hurt or bruise the male ego, as it would only make him want to settle scores with you. Spite would be on top of his mind and an angry man is a mad man. Never insult your ‘soon-to-become-Ex’, as parting words are the words that will remain in the hearts forever. Ensure these words don’t sting or belittle him, so he would not want to seek a vengeance.
Every woman is gifted with a sense that actually alerts them to any dangers or threats. Never ignore that. Stay in touch with your gut feeling, ‘cos it knows what is right for you and can actually save you!
All you lovely, gorgeous women out there- Stay safe, stay blessed! You are but the sunshine of this planet.
Note: This post is intended for Indian readers & is with relevance to Indian mindsets & it’s conservative cultures. The same may not be true with reference to another nation.