[INDOLOGY] Sexual Harassment

Allen Thrasher alanus1216 at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 19 21:03:56 UTC 2016

There was much concern about Eve-teasing both in the national and the local (Poona Herald) English-language press during my first stay in India in 1969 and 1970, and it was never blamed on the young women, so I doubt the use of "Eve" was meant to insinuate they were temptresses and thus to put the responsibility on them.  It was considered a serious matter.  On the other hand the press never mentioned it's going beyond words, unlike the present.  One sometime read of the girls' brothers getting their friends together to physically chastise the offenders.
I am on the road and do not have access to an OED or a history of slang, so cannot check whether "Eve" was used earlier as a colloquialism for "woman" or "girl," but it might be worth a look.
Was the British woman's magazine "Eve" widely distributed in the subcontinent?
Eve might be a model of being a temptress, but she is the mother of us all and therefore also a metonym for womanhood in general, without any disparagement.
It is not particularly surprising that S. Asians should go outside Bharatavarsa for an image of womanhood as such, since they have undergone more than two centuries of intense British and Christian influence - and for that matter more than a millenium of influence from Islam, in which Eve also figures.  

Also the figure of the first woman does not play as prominent a role in the Hindu origin stories as Eve in the Abrahamic.

Finally, I read somewhere that one of the earlier American ambassadors to India (I think I read this during my first stay) said that there was no country in the world that he would feel safer for his daughter to travel alone in than India.  It doesn't sound like this is true any more.  Or was he deceived at the time, the 50s or 60s?

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  On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 12:55 AM, patrick mccartney<psdmccartney at gmail.com> wrote:   The term 'eve teasing' apparently was first used in the 1960s. Although I have never been able to find out by whom it was coined. The answer is in part found here: "Eve teasing" is used in India to refer to a wide variety of behaviour including molestation, "flashing" or any verbal/physical sexual street harassment that falls short of rape.
But this from wikipedia sums it up: According to them, considering the semantic roots of the term in Indian English, Eve teasing refers to the temptress nature of Eve, placing responsibility on the woman as a tease.[10]
More importantly, it represents the 'woman as “temptress” who was complicit in her own downfall... [and] is actually a denial that it is sexual violence'.

Also, the term is not found in the Indian Penal Code. 
I don't know, but perhaps it has something to do with the perception that 'rape' etc occurs in 'India' and not 'Bhārat' as RSS ideologue Mohan Bhagwat is fond of saying.  And that it is because it is perceived as a cultural import from Abrahamic religions that have 'dominated' and 'enslaved' the region for several centuries. Ultimately, this anti-social behaviour is perceived as a result of 'Western values' and not a local practice. It is considered a colonial byproduct. This helps create a moral panic to stimulate an anti-western agenda. A return to 'core/true' Indian values is considered the answer to this problem. At least in the eyes of the Sangh Parivar.

 Perhaps this is a result of the final stage of Srinivas' Sanskritization theory, i.e. Westernization? Bhagwat further qualified his essentialised remark stating that the 'pure village' is devoid of assaults but the sullied (i.e. Westernised) urban centres are where assaults occur.  

All the best,

Patrick McCartney, PhDFellowSchool of Culture, History & Language
College of the Asia-Pacific
The Australian National University
Canberra, Australia, 0200

Skype - psdmccartneyPhone + Whatsapp:  +61 414 954 748Twitter - @psdmccartney


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On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 3:32 PM, Walter Slaje <slaje at kabelmail.de> wrote:

I am sorry the diacritics I use for vedic accents and the hácek(inverted circumflex) never show in my emails. This is beyond mycontrol. My apologies for the inconvenience.


I was also reminded that the thread is „sexual harrassment“,not „rape“ in the strict sense. This is correct. Might I, with your permission,then add the innocent question why public sexual harrassment in India is widelyknown as „Eve teasing“?

The vast majority of victims are Indian girls. So, why anEnglish – but not an Indian – forename to designate a crime committed by male Indianyouth gangs against Indian women?

I have never quite understood the background of this bizarredenomination. I am afraid in this particular case attempts at linking it to thepremodern past of India are bound to fail. Are there any explanations on offer?


Yours, cluelessly,


2016-10-17 22:25 GMT+02:00 Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl>:

> Iva Fiser
Let's please retain Prof. Ivo Fišer's Czech family name.
Artur K.  
2016-10-17 22:17 GMT+02:00 farkhondeh iran via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>:

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---------- Wiadomość przekazana dalej ----------
From: farkhondeh iran <iran_farkhondeh at yahoo.fr>
To: Walter Slaje <slaje at kabelmail.de>
Cc: Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com>, indology <indology at list.indology.info>
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2016 22:16:11 +0200
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Sexual Harassment

If I may again, I agree withProf. Slaje on the danger of anachronism and the need to go back to the Sanskritwords. The word kanyā-dūṣaṇa does not occur in KSS XII, 2, 105 cd but the Sanskritis crystal-clear: it is a case of abuse as the girl is not willing and as the vidyādhara has undertaken to abduct her by force. 

upetya tām anicchantīm haṭhāddhartum pravṛttavān, KSS XII, 2, 105, cd
I. Farkhondeh

Le 17 oct. 2016 à 21:54, Walter Slaje <slaje at kabelmail.de> a écrit :

Before rashly jumping to a discussion of “rape” by tacitlypresupposing a 21st century Western understanding of its concept andperformance also for ancient India, a clarification is required of the concept(s)of “rape” prevailing in premodern Indian thought. What unambiguous words and matchingnotions have so far been recorded that would correspond to "rape" in accordance with modern Western standards? What normative boundariesof, e.g., “legal” types of marriage such as rākṣasa and piśāca– clear cases of “rape” in Western terms I suppose – needed to be transgressed that factsof rape would have been considered as fulfilled in premodern India? Was kanyā-dūṣaṇa the same as “rape” in our understanding, or simply the spoiling of a virgin so that she couldno longer be married off and became a serious damage to her parents?

In what way can theabsolute power a husband would have exercised over his wife (or wives) becategorised in contexts of "rape"?

Is there any connecting factor of the past that could be related to the extraordinarily high number of filed gang rape cases in present-day India as continuously reported by the Indian media? In this latter regard, a good starting point could perhaps be Gyula Wojtilla's "Women at Work and Their Enemies. A Reappraisal of the Kāmasūtra V, 5, 5 – 10" (I lack the bibliographic citation of his paper at the moment).

In a more general sense, BĀU(M) VI 4,7 could also be revealing, if just ati-√kram is not understood in line with Śaṅkara’s unconvincing attempts at downplaying the matter, but in accordance with Iva Fiser's „overcome her forcibly“ (Indian Erotics of the Oldest Period, Praha1966: 116, a book not without its merits).



Prof. Dr. Walter Slaje
Hermann-Löns-Str. 1
D-99425 Weimar

2016-10-17 20:08 GMT+02:00 Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com>:

On 17 October 2016 at 22:48, Artur Karp <karp at uw.edu.pl> wrote:

Dear All, 
Should I understand that there are no traces, no mentions of sexual harrasment in the entire - vast - corpus of ancient/medieval Indian literature?

A search for rape as the Text Word in the Puranic Encylopedia under http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.un i-koeln.de/scans/PEScan/2014/w eb/webtc2/index.php shows up the following:
Rape of Rambhā by Rāvaṇa (VR, UK).
Rape [sic] of Vedavatī by Rāvaṇa (VR, UK). In the VR, it is harassment but not rape. Probably the rape is described in some other R.Rape of Madanamañjarī by Rāvaṇa (source?)
Rape of Cañcalākṣī by Rāvaṇa (KambaR)Rape of Arā, daughter of Śukra, by Daṇḍa (VR UK)
Rape of Ugrasena's wife by the Gandharva Dramila (SB, 10th Canto)
Attempt to rape Vinayavatī by Raṅgamālī (Kathāsaritsāgara)
Attempt to rape Pramati by Nala, friend of Sudeva (Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa)
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