Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Note: Happy Diwali to all Hindus

Swinging my bag, I hurriedly grab the nearest available seat on the train, not noticing it is right next to a Indian foreign worker, and opposite two of them. Only after I sit down I realize my mistake, but it is too late. It doesn’t help that I am wearing what is considered one of my more “revealing” tops (ie bustline is 2 cm lower than usual). I stare at the floor, I stare at the MRT line-map, at the advertisements, anywhere, but at the guy who is staring at me now.

It is a familiar situation, this, one which I am acquainted to since I started “developing”. This ubiquitous stare follows me as I walk next to construction sites, through the streets of Little India and around the temple. I am used to the cat-calls and derogatory remarks. I am effectively blind, deaf and mute when such episodes strike, as the upbringing of most Indian women dictate. My mother often scolds me if I am wearing tight/revealing clothing when visiting Little India, clothes which would otherwise have passed the test if I were visiting Orchard Road.

(Straight) Young Indian men usually consider it their birthright to stare at other Indian women, the younger the better. While most Singaporean Indian men are fairly decent, the ones born and bred in India are usually not. India has a problem that I’ve never heard of in other countries, so much so that they’ve coined a word for it themselves: eve-teasing. Ladies, going back and forth about their business daily, are stared at, teased and molested by young hot-blooded men, often on crowded trains and buses. There is a whole faction of female policemen trained in combating this problem.

It is a defect, I believe, owing to the patriarchal structure of the Indian family, and
the absolute-chastity-before-marriage condition [making the forbidden fruit all the much sweeter]The woman is a piece of property to be passed from family to family, thus granting her scant respect. One would note that there is a direct correlation between the level of freedom and respect granted to women, and men’s behaviour towards women. It also comes back to the mother then, to ingrain in her son the proper respect towards women. But how can she, when she does not have respect for herself? Maybe this is not confined to India, but a characteristic of men and women from third-world countries, which would make a lot of sense.

And it is really not as if yours truly doesn’t enjoy looking at women, so to an extent, I know where this guy is coming from. But as hot as the girl is, I accord her the respect she deserves, and I don’t stare at her like a piece of meat, which is not what any self-respecting woman wants.

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