The city police of Salt Lake City, one of the most posh areas in Kolkata, put out an advisory post titled 'Tips on How to Prevent Eve-Teasing' on their website, in which they have given such advices to women to keep eve teasers at bay.
Here are the twelve tips suggested by the city police, which were hurriedly removed after drawing flak from different quarters:
1. Dress decently.
2. Have emergency speed dial numbers in your phone.
3. Self defense.
4. Be aware of people around you.
5. Avoid late nights.
6. Carry pepper spray.
7. Be well behaved.
8. Stay in groups.
9. Avoid travelling in crowded bus or train.
10. Avoid going in isolated places
11. Walk in well-lit and frequented areas.
12. Be street smart.
With such a list, that too coming from our men in uniform clearly shows that they are putting the onus of all such incidents on women. With such guidelines to ensure their own safety, one can only wonder why the police is there in the first place if we have to ourselves take care of things.
What is the definition of 'dressing decently'?
The advise to dress decently is age-old but could someone please enlighten on what is the meaning of dressing decently and how do we define it? Who decides what is a 'decent' dress and what is an 'indecent' one?
To stop such incidents, why are girls told to dress properly? Why do restrictions come for them only? If the skirts, backless dresses etc entice men to commit such heinous acts, then will someone please tell why rape of a five-year-old girl, or a 80 year-old woman takes place?
The policemen who have said the above should definitely come out and see how the majority of girls, irrespective of the clothes they wear, irrespective of their age and irrespective of what time of day it is are subject to harassment and molestation.
More baffling is the fact that a circular smacking of sexist and patriarchal mindset was issued in a state whose Chief Minister is a woman.
Earlier it was only few politicians and Khap Panchayats which blamed women for the rising incidents of rapes and harassment because of their western attire as they believed that it provokes men. To be out on streets, do girls really need a dress code?
And then the fuming reactions come:
"Instead of taking steps to make the city safe for women, at all times, ensuring safe transport for women, asking men to stop harassing and behave themselves and take men to task, the entire blame and onus of safety is being put on women," activist Anuradha Kapoor was quoted as saying in NDTV.
"They do not want to take responsibility of ensuring women's security and instead ask them not to travel in crowded public transport. Are they asking women to sit at home? The state is doing nothing much for women's safety and then this piece of patriarchal moral policing! Absolutely ridiculous," fumed Kapoor.
Police should take some actions to bring the rising crime against women
Some of the points given in the guidelines were practical suggestions that would really help to protect women. But in the guidelines there were also points which smacked of chauvinism and the only thing that was missing from the guidelines was that the police just stopped short of telling women to stay at home if they want to be safe.
The restriction from Kolkata police comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech at Red Fort when he asked the parents to question their boys and not putting restrictions on their girls.
"Why do you put 'bandhan' (restrictions) on your girls, Do you not ask what your boys are doing? Who they are meeting? What they are doing?", PM had said.
Rather than issuing such guidelines, the police should take some actions to bring the rising crime against women in the state down.