As part of the Anti-Rape Bill which is an amendment to the Indian Penal Code., stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks are in particular called out. So far so good. But it went downhill rather quickly when a discussion ensued in the parliament. Here’s Sharad Yadav:
He also said provisions to make stalking and staring a crime can be misused. “Who amongst us have not followed girls,” Yadav said evoking peels of laughter.
He said this while making a larger point that men make the first move and approach women when they are interested—which I’d say is accurate. But there’s a vast spectrum between approaching a girl and stalking a girl. I’d leave it to the girl to decide which is which. I trust her judgement. Because all women are not stupid. Because women are as intellectual as men. Because women are equal to men.
Which is the whole fucking point of all this!
His exact words, “Kaun hai hum mein sey jo peecha nahin kiya?,” taken verbatim tend towards stalking. And that’s how it should be. I can’t think of any legitimate reason why a guy is following a girl. (Fine, I’ll give you going-shopping-with-some-girls. But if that’s outlawed, who’s complaining?)
Back to the point. In all social issues, there is always a fear that is voiced: We want to do something but let’s not dial the knob too far! From gay marriage to women’s safety. If there’s something worse than the bigotry of opponents, it is their non-imaginative counter examples. For gay marriage, it was polygamy and bestiality (both of which don’t scare me.) For women’s rights, it is always men making this point and the point is always: But .. but this will give them too much power which they might then misuse!
Irony, meet Anti-Rape Bill.
I wish Sharad Yadav and those who think likewise took a moment to step in the shoes of the girl they are “following” and considering a hypothetical where the girl doesn’t like them at all. Or in concepts that bigots understand: What if Sharad Yadav was followed by a gay guy who wanted to have sex with him?
Not so appealing now, is it?
That is why things will be alright if stalking is recognized as an offense.
Now there will be cases where you might be interested in a girl, you approach her and say as much in the most non-threatening way and she still feels threatened. A valid point. But in those cases, I fear an immediate-justice mob mentality than a judge taking facts into account and ruling against you. Let’s even say the girl is excessively paranoid and feels threatened just by you talking to her. That’s a rare edge case but I’d side with the girl because you did harass her psychologically. (And to be fair, you also did approach someone you knew nothing about.)
We Indians really need to sit down and have a conversation about the concept of healthy dating. If only there was a culture we could emulate for the right reasons ..