There are hardly any women who have not been subject to sexual harassment in public transports all over the globe.
This makes me wonder if we ever evolved out of our savage ways. It is a fact that disheartens me, and many others, on a deep level. And it concerns me because I am a man too. And when a woman looks suspiciously at me in the bus, I cannot blame them. It has become a part of their lives. They have adapted to this and keep their ears perked at all times. The question is: Why do they have to? Why do they have to succumb to these wounds? And why, even after so many years are we still not human? How do we put an end to sexual harassment?
From Costa Rica to India and Japan to Egypt, this problem is universal. Women are the constant subjects of sexual harassment. They are groped, abused and in some brutal cases even raped in public transports, while the world watches. And in the end, it is always the girl who gets blamed. Your dress must have provoked him. Your bra straps are showing. You should not dress indecently. You should not have gone out so late at night. Why? Why does a woman become a piece of meat if she dresses attractively?
Gender Segregation Against Sexual Harassment
Around 40% cases of sexual harassment in India took place in public transports like buses, and the subway. So, people came with the idea of gender segregation. Over the globe, we have reserved seats in public transports for women and women-only transport systems as well. In India, after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a female student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 and the alleged rape of a woman by an Uber taxi driver has led to more and more women-only taxi services seeing the light of day. Women-only buses run in Mexico, and Thailand (and many other places). Japan has women-only train cars.
But why is gender segregation the solution? Why does it feel like it rests on women to avoid being molested rather than putting a stop to the men terrorizing them in the first place? Being a man, it is very shameful to admit that it is our fault. Research shows that such men do not molest just for sexual pleasure (most of them are married men in their mid-40s and above), but they seek a sense of power, of control. They still rely on the notion that women are weaker, meant to be conquered, that having molested a girl without any repercussions is a trophy in itself. Why do we have to resort to gender segregation, why can’t we men change?
Sexual Harassment: We Don’t Know Half of It
Be aware that most of such incidents don’t lead to a conviction. That does not indicate that it does not happen but it goes a long way in showing that there are a lot of reasons why such molesters never get in the hands of justice, such as social stigma, honor, and trauma. How could even I, in a woman’s shoes, talk about it when I would be almost certain that instead of trying to help me and address this issue, people would boil it down to me being provocative, staying out late and not taking precautions? You cannot blame a woman for staying quiet and not fighting back (which most men consider as acceptation; that the girl is somehow enjoying that blasphemous act).
We have regressed back to gender segregation as that is the most immediate step that we can see. And it has worked, to an extent. But it has not put an end to these incidents because they do not address the root cause of this evil. Gender segregation focuses on the victims and asks them to be more careful, rather than prosecuting the criminals and changing their mindset.
Education Instead of Gender Segregation
Every molester is a human (even though their acts are inhuman), they have an education and an upbringing. We need to start at the roots. And the root cause is the evil power-seeking mindset of most men. If we educate men, imbibe in them the ideas of respecting women and their consent, it would go a long way to developing a human with character. We also need to tell people that it is not the woman’s fault that she was subject to molestation. She is the victim, not the cause. One cannot be both at the same time.
When we stop these patriarchal ideas and try to put an end to this misogyny, we will find that more women will speak up, no more afraid. And men will finally realize that they do not have the power, that their heinous acts will not remain hidden. That is the correct step to take. Education, not gender segregation, to stop sexual harassment of women.