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The 14-second stare

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rafiazakariyaRishiraj Singh is the excise commissioner in the Indian state of Kerala. In the most recent photograph of him that I could find, he sports the khaki uniform of his position and a formidable moustache. In the last half of August, however, Rishiraj Singh has become known for something else, an edict against men who stare at women.

While addressing a small group of people in the city of Kochi on women’s safety, Singh declared that any man found staring at a woman for more than 14 seconds could be put in jail. Since India is a country of men who like to stare, his statement provoked immediate attention and ire; the Indian newspaper India Express labelled the statement ‘absurd’ and included an interview with a lawyer who said that there was no such law.

Others largely took the same tone: how dare Indian men be threatened with imprisonment for staring at Indian women. In the words of one Indian attorney: “There is no such provision in any law of this country and there cannot be such a mindless provision of law in any other country of the world. Period.” The message to women, Indian and otherwise: it’s a man’s world and staring at women must necessarily be a part of it.Read More »The 14-second stare