The Question of Gender Equality and Demographics in India

I would call it an Indian phenomenon. I mean “eve-teasing.” In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape and the outrage that followed the discussion in the media (and offline) has provided some new insights. (Even the word “gangrape” has been made into one word in Indian media, which would point to its wide prevalence.)

For example the term “eve-teasing” is clearly labelled as an Indian phenomenon by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Indian

  • the making of unwanted sexual remarks or advances by a man to a woman in a public place.

Surprised? Apparently, because in other parts of the world – less crowded than India – this may hardly take place. There private spaces are respected. In India men take advantage of the crowds on the street to get away by touching, groping, and even pinching a woman, which has become so common that women accept it as a given. In fact, no Indian woman can say that she hasn’t been touched or groped in a crowded street or public place. It seems to be prevalent in cities mostly because that’s where the crowds are. The cities also have a huge unattached male  population who have no outlet for their sexual desires.

The term has also come to be termed as street harassment, a new connotation, it might seem. How come it hasn’t been such a grave internationally as it is in India? What is so peculiar about Indian men? After all, we have written texts on the art of making love – the Kamasutra. So the question is why is India such a sexually repressed society? The answer may lie in the changing demographics of gender numbers. Considering the high dowry payable to give a daughter in marriage most families want male children. This has led to detection of the sex of the child and aborting the fetus if it is a female. So, overall, there are more men than women and in the cities where men come to work the sex ratio is even more disparate. This leads to eve teasing and street harassment.

What’s the solution? Practices like dowry are banned, but it continues to be given and taken. There needs to be more education for women, and appointment in positions of power in society. All this takes a lot of struggle on the part of women at an ideological level and not just slogan shouting and calling for the death penalty for rapists.