She went to the police for help, and what she got there was what most women get everywhere.

The stare affects all women even cops Hyd activists uncomfortable brush with the male gazeImage credit: Facebook/Varsha Bhargavi
news News Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 15:50

You’re in a meeting, communicating with a bunch of people. You’re trying to be confident, you’re making just the right amount of eye contact. You want to ensure that the others in the room get the point you’re trying to make.

But it’s difficult, because the eyes of the man sitting across you are flitting. He’s not looking at your eyes, not even in the general direction of your face. In fact, he’s unabashedly staring at your breasts, may be even talking to them.

The fact that this is an experience almost every woman has had should be a more shocking fact, but it isn’t. And recently, a Hyderabad-based activist was faced with a breast-starer who also happened to be a policeman.

Varsha Bhargavi, a child rights activist and an advisor to the Telangana state Child Rights Protection Forum, went to the Jeedimetla police station to file a theft complaint on June 6.

“Two constable came to my house to inspect after I filed a complaint. And while I was explaining exactly what happened, one of the constables was constantly looking at my chest,” Varsha tells TNM.

“I made several hand gestures to distract him, however, he kept staring at me. It was a very uncomfortable moment,” Varsha says.

Though the activist chose not to react at that point of time, she decided to tweet about the incident later that night.

Thankfully for the police force, they at least decided to take action following Varsha’s tweet.

But while we hope this investigation results in some action, already it has opened a can of worms.

Varsha was contacted by Cyberabad Deputy Commissioner of Police to inquire into the incident - and, no surprises here, the woman officer mentioned to Varsha that even she is faced with inappropriate stares from her colleagues on the job.

“I was shocked when a Cyberabad woman Deputy Commissioner of Police called me to ask about the incident, said that she has also been victim of the same,” Varsha tells TNM.

Indeed, it’s not a new revelation that even when women break the glass barrier and excel in traditionally male dominated fields, they do have to contend with sexism and harassment at every level.

However, the fact that even a high ranking police official cannot escape the uncomfortable male gaze only goes to show how much we need to focus on sensitisation of the police force.

The DCP in question however has downplayed the incident.

“I got orders from higher ups to enquire about the incident. I called her to pacify, however, this matter now has become a big fuss. I don’t want to comment on that, but I would say, the police department does not entertain these kinds of harassment. These incidents are rare. It was my job to make her feel comfortable enough to talk to me,” the DCP tells TNM.

She also adds that Varsha’s complaint has been taken seriously. “We are fighting against harassment everyday to make the city a safer place for woman. These kind of incidents will not be tolerated in the department,” she says.

 

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