Lalita du Perron

“There’s Nothing Naive about Teasing Eve: Sexual Harassment Culture in North India”


Image courtesy of Indian Quotes

The euphemism “eve-teasing” in North India is frequently used to represent street sexual harassment. While the negative impact of such harassment on the lives of women is well-documented, the language employed to describe sexual aggression in public spaces remains anodyne. The terminology used to refer to the harassment and its perpetrators suggests a certain playful innocence, coupled with accountability on the part of the victim. This phrasing is also found in the ways the actions of the Hindu god Krishna, as depicted in religious texts, poetry, folklore, and song, are interpreted: as whimsical mischief rather than cause for concern. In this talk, I suggest there is a parallel between the apologetic insistence on Krishna’s innocence and divinity in the stories of his “erotic pranks”, and the ongoing refusal to take seriously the street sexual harassment that pervades the lives of women in North India.