Alappuzha: When politicians indulge in insulting women candidates to change the narrative in high-voltage poll campaigns, the state has been witnessing a steady growth eve-teasing cases.
Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor A. Vijayaraghavan’s controversial poll-pitch against Ramya Haridas, the rival candidate in Alathur, has exposed Kerala men’s regressive practice.
According to the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) data, Kerala reported 1,733 such cases in five years, the last year being the highest - 460.
Anjali, a college student, says the women are often submissive. They don’t want to react due to the fear of revenge.
"They think if a man’s ego is hurt, there would be an immediate repercussion," she says.
"And women are always doubtful whether they would get public support. So, the majority of eve-teasing cases go unreported."
She also points out the misogynistic comment by responsible politicians would always help to embolden thugs.
"Career politicians often use such remarks during election campaigns skipping the real issues," she says.
"But the message would go down the society as immunity to anti-socials to insult women. So politicians should be careful when they make public speeches."
It was not the first such derogatory comments political leaders made against women candidates.
CPI-M veteran V. S. Achuthanandan ran into trouble with his Congress opponent in Malampuzha constituency Lathika Subhash during assembly election in 2011.
"They are famous, and, if you inquire, you will know how they are famous," he told a press conference then.
Though Mrs Subhash moved to the Election Commission and the court, the case reached nowhere.
Legal experts say the rule book doesn’t have a term eve-teasing. Offenders can be prosecuted under other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Police often book them under section 294 (making a girl or woman the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation is liable to a maximum jail sentence of three months, with fine or both) 292 (Showing pornographic or obscene pictures, books or papers to a woman or girl results in a fine of Rs 2000 with two years of imprisonment for first-time offenders and a fine of up to Rs 5000 with five years imprisonment for a repeated offence) and 509 (Obscene gestures, indecent body language and negative comments directed at any woman or girl or exhibiting any object, which intrudes upon the privacy of a woman, is subjected to a penalty of imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both)....