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Preparing Women To Fight Against 'Eve Teasing’


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
It was just another day for Brinda Dasgupta when she set off for her classes at Jadavpur University on September 16. But as she made her way to the auto-stand at around 9.45 am, a cyclist rode towards her from the opposite direction, groped her and whizzed past her. Though the stunned young girl overcame the initial shock and ran after the cyclist, screaming and shouting at people to stop the miscreant, he disappeared into one of the by lanes.

“I rang up my mother, who asked me to return home,” she says. But Brinda was determined to get over it and proceed to the university to attend her post-graduation classes in English Literature. Unlike countless other women who have faced such humiliation on the streets, Brinda and her mother were not willing to take it lying down.

When her dignity was outraged in public, Brinda Dasgupta decided to lead the fight to make Kolkata a safe city for women

Mother Mala Dasgupta, a public relations professional, decided to tap her contacts in the media, while Brinda wrote down the details of her experience, which later became part of the FIR filed by the police station, and the press release, which was sent to media organizations.

Artist Suvaprasanna, a family friend who is proactive on social causes, got them in touch with Kolkata Police Commissioner, Gautam Mohan Chakraborti, and The Telegraph Metro Section Editor Sumit Dasgupta helped Brinda reach out to the public. “Initially, I had spoken to a few close friends. But once The Telegraph put out the details, many others called back to tell me about similar horrifying experiences they had been through. This was when I resolved to do something concrete to make the streets safer for all other women. A classmate of mine and a senior at the university spurred me on in my resolve.”

The following Saturday, Brinda organized a meeting at Café Coffee Day in Gol Park, South Kolkata, and with the help of several like-minded friends, decided to take on issues related to the safety of women and girls. Women could never be safe unless the support of the law-keepers could be drawn, she felt. Learning from the myriad experiences of friends, she realized how dim lighting and unlit stretches always encouraged miscreants to harass women. Thus was born the Safe City campaign with The Telegraph as media partner and the Kolkata Police and Kolkata Municipal Corporation as partners.

Starting with her neighbourhood in New Alipore, Brinda and friends went about meeting members of the community. “Most of us do not know anything about a police helpline for women being in place; nor the existence of a woman’s grievance cell that is devoted exclusively to crimes against women.” With the help of the New Alipore Association Puja Committee, the Safe City campaigners got small leaflets listing some important numbers that women could use when teased or molested, with a few basic safety instructions. Her campaign earned the support of Beth Payne, the American Consul in Kolkata, who offered to hold self-defence workshops for women in the city’s American Center.

The Kolkata Police featured Brinda in their in-house publication, Kolkata Protector, and even honoured her with the Commissioner’s Award on Dial 100 (a television programme run by the Kolkata Police with Doordarshan) for her efforts to make the streets safe for women.

But Brinda is not one to rest on her laurels. “We have to be aware of our rights, and yet fight back intelligently when we face danger,” she emphasizes.



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Nov 14, 2010
I have heard similar stories of public groping from friends in Mexico and Russia. I had a Russian gentleman staying with us as an exchange student through a US State Department program. He was a businessman, married with children, who was working on a Master's Degree in Business Administration. One night, after I was finished washing the dinner dishes, he said he was going to go downstairs to sleep, and I said, "Okay, goodnight and sleep well!" Having read that Russians are exceedingly friendly, huggy folks, I accepted a quick hug from him and as I pulled away HE GROPED MY BUTT. :shockedkudi: :angrykudi:

I looked at him and said firmly, "NO. That is NOT okay. We don't DO that here in America."

He seemed stunned...and (fortunately) very apologetic. I got the feeling it was the first time ANY woman had sternly rebuked him for groping her that way. How sad, if that is, in fact the case.

The liaison (a Russian woman) I spoke with at the State Department office was also profoundly apologetic and said, with her thick accent, "This is why we move *here*, my daughter and I. When I was teenager in Russia, *every day* some man on bus groping me. I said for my daughter, no. This will not do."

She and a few others had a conversation with my guest and explained the cultural expectation American women have around groping, uninvited romantic or sexual overtures, etc., he wrote me a letter of apology and I consented to allow him to return and stay with us for the remainder of his time in the US. He was on his very best behavior after that. :happykudi:

I just cannot imagine not demanding respect for my own *body* -- my *person*. How awful that women anywhere (let alone so many other places) ever get the message that their bodies are not their own and do not deserve respect and dignity.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
It goes on in Italy too. There they have laws against it, fines and jail time. In fact I thought Italy was the kingdom of grope. However, the way it works there is more like a "hit and run" so to speak. By the time you realize what has happened, the fellow is 25 feet ahead of you and soon lost in the crowd. Sometimes a grope is accompanied by a pick-pocket attempt, which may or may not be successful. Ugh!
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