Dear Ms. Chasm,
It was heart breaking to read your post on CNN (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1023053). I not only sympathize with you, I empathize with you too. I don’t have an iota of doubt that all the incidents that you have mentioned in your post actually happened. I know there’s no exaggeration or fabrication. I feel terrible that after visiting our country you suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Yet, your statement that India is a ‘traveler’s heaven & woman’s hell’ disturbs me. And, I am not saying so because our religious texts say that ‘Yatra Naryastu Poojyate Ramante Tatra Devata’ (God resides only in the land where women are worshiped). No, I am not going to defend my country here. I feel that I am a girl first & an Indian later.
So, I can put myself in your situation. It’s easy to relate with you, because I’ve also been stared at, stalked & sometimes touched inappropriately. Most of my friends have been. It’s not fair & ideally it shouldn’t happen at all. But, you know for every single bad guy that I have encountered, I’ve met 5 great guys. I know India is patriarchal & let’s say most men are chauvinists here but all of them are not animals or cave men.
I know guys who on purpose slow down the pace while walking in an isolated lane if a girl is walking ahead of them, to keep a safe distance. As they want to put that girl at ease & reassure her of her safety. There are guys would say “Ma’m you go,I’ll take another one” when it’s just him & me situation in the lift, again just to make me comfortable. I’ve seen cabbies who would stop & slap miscreant boys troubling ‘white girls’ saying, “Saale, desh ka naam kharab karte hain”. (Rascals, they ruin the reputation of our country). If a girl’s car bangs a boy’s bike, people run to the girl & ask if she’s okay & if she needs to be taken to the hospital. Unless, the girl says, “It’s my fault” people just beat that guy up without even examining the situation. (Not that it’s right but it happens). Similarly, if a girl screams, “that boy is troubling me”, people just come & bash him up. They don’t even check whether the girl was actually in trouble or she was bluffing. This goes double if the girl is ‘white skin & blue eyed’ because men really want to impress them for more than one reason.
This makes me wonder why you didn’t ask for help? Why you suffered so much & didn’t let anybody fix things for you?
Why you didn’t tell your faculty member Mr. Dipesh Chakrabarty about your ordeal? I am sure, just like you for him also there would be nothing more important than your safety.
Why you didn’t approach the local Indian staff or your batch mates or college mates? We have such an open house policy in India that if you would’ve told any Indian female classmate of yours about your situation, she would’ve asked you to move in with her. Most girls here stay with their parents & Indian mothers love to have people over. Again, this goes double for you because you are a foreigner. She would’ve treated you like her daughter. Depending upon their financial status, they may have even allotted their driver for your service.
I feel bad about what happened with you. But, I feel worse that you didn’t let us help you. Yes, our country may or may not be as safe as the USA (that’s an another topic of debate) but you should at least have given us a chance to ease your stay here.
If you would ‘ve let out a cry for help, I am sure it wouldn’t have gone unheard. Especially, since you are a US citizen. It’s not just about you being a guest but for more diplomatic & economical reasons the officials would have been more forthcoming & prompt in your case. Trust me, being a ‘white’ woman in India is not a burden, it’s a privilege.
You don’t have to take my word here. Maybe you should read this, http://htsyndication.com/htsportal/article?arid=%222307819%22&pub=%22Hindustan+Times%22 . It’s an article where expat girls who are living in India, talk about how safe they feel here.
Ms. Chasm, you are clearly a brave girl, speaking about it now. I wonder why a girl like you didn’t raise her voice when she was here? Because if you would’ve your experience of India would have been different. You wouldn’t be missing your classes because of PSTD, you would be missing them because you would’ve extended your stay to enjoy the cultural & spiritual experiences that our country offers.
PS: Almost two months since this post, I read this article. I couldn’t help but bring it for Ms. Chasm’s perusal http://www.salon.com/2013/10/15/why_naked_pictures_arent_harmless/