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Sexual harassment as a female travelling India

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First, let me mention that I loved visiting India. That I am all for traveling India and all for women doing it on their own if they want. The subject of women safety in India is one that comes up often and I just wanted to tell my story of Sexual Harassment as a female traveling India. Please, please know that I loved India, missed it and can’t wait to go back!

This blog is normally always run on guest post, but today I wanted to tell one of my stories - please do get in touch if you have a story you want to tell

Travelling India as a women

An Invitation to go to an Indian wedding, in India with my best friend in a small town. This was a travel opportunity that I simply could not turn down. We were going to be staying with his family and I would be travelling with him so I didn’t have any fear or hesitation, I was simply excited. After the wedding, I had decided to do some travelling whilst he spend time with his family. I still wasn’t worried, simply excited to explore. Now I didn’t in fact feel any fear or hesitation until about 2 minutes before I boarded a train from Agra to Jaipur, at night by myself.

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

I was just about to get on the train, night time, alone when I realised I would then be traveling India alone as a female. A blond haired, blue eyed, quite clearly white woman. I turned to his cousin next to me and said “oh, um… this is safe right?” I wasn’t scared, I just thought I should express my curiosity. “Yeh, just don’t talk to anyone” she said. That answer made me feel slightly more hesitant than before. The first thing I did when I got on the train was chat to a large group of men when they asked me where I was from and offered me some sandwiches.

I survived the train ride and had no problems. I got nervous when I got to Jaipur station and there was nobody around but a few tuk-tuk drivers, it was very late and I only had the address of my hotel. I got nervous when the tuk-tuk driver kept stopping to ask random men on the street for directions to my hostel, I got nervous when he tried to get my number to show me around and when he offered me a different hotel. Everything was fine, I made it to the hotel and no problems. I’m aware that tuk-tuk drivers asking for directions is normal; I’m aware that he was simply after my number to upsell me to be my driver. When I got to my hotel, I even laughed at myself, yet pat myself on my back for my bravery.

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

I spent the day exploring. I must admit I always felt a little uneasy about being a woman alone in India. It was the staring that did it to me, the constant attention I created. The people trying to sell me things or stop me in my tracks all the time. I understand and accept India completely for how it is when it comes to these things, but being my first time in this environment, I was slightly uneasy. To be honest, that worry never really left me. It did ease at some time. Even when I met a very nice guy in Jaipur who showed me around, I was still a little uneasy. I trusted him despite my worries and it paid off, he was wonderful.

If there was one thing I would change from my time in India, it’s being so scared all the time.

is India Safe for a Female Traveller

My last say in Kolkatta, I had hit my limit with India, I didn’t fall in love with Kolkatta the way I had other places and I was very tired. I trusted a man I met in the markets, we connected other his brother being in Sydney (where I’m from) we went to a bar, and chatted and whilst perhaps going to a bar with a man I just met in India isn’t on the womens list of ways to stay safe, I did it anyway. A part of me has just has enough with being on my guard all the time. I was careful, ordered, obtained, paid and watched my own drink. I had a good enough time.I trust people very easy and what I did was probably silly but instead, he showed me and there were no issues with him.

It was when we were about to walk into one bar, he went in first, came out and said “no we can’t go in there” “why not” I said… because it’s all men, he said… but I’m with you, I said and the other bar was fine… “I can tell it’s not” he said - “They will kill me to get to you”… That is when I said I think it’s time for me to go to the airport. Off I drove to the airport, in a tuk tuk, tipsy after only 2 beers but enjoying the chaos that comes with India knowing that I was leaving but I had done it! I had gotten to experience this crazy, crazy place and had not only survived, but thrived!

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

Now this is where the story starts:

I was sitting in the airport having a glass of red wine waiting for my plane. The waiter (male) kept staring at me. I was ignoring it, drinking my wine, typing away at my computer and waiting for my boarding call. By this point I was use to men staring and I was in relaxed mode so I didn’t care I ignored it.

Now I have never really experienced sexual harassment or anything similar. My boarding announcement was called I called the guy over to pay my bill, this is how it went down:

“I want to kiss you”

“Um.. no thanks, I have a boyfriend”

“That's okay” he said

“I think I’ll just pay the bill now”

Then he put his hand on my bum softly and said “We can go around the corner your boyfriend doesn’t have to know”

When I realised what was happening I was too shocked to say anything

“No I’m not going to do that” I said still in a bit of shock

I just didn’t expect this and whilst it isn’t as big of a deal as some instances of sexual harressment I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together. He kept his hand there, staring, moving it slowly to let me know thats where his hand was and he had a right to do it… he would stare and try and convince me to kiss him and I sat in silence.

I quickly regained my thoughts and got up and left.

 

This is my problem with what happened...

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

I stood by the boarding gate in shock... A part of me just thought “wait, go back there and slap him, report him… do something. This isn’t you Bec you would tell him off, you are brave and a strong woman!”. But I didn’t. So as I stood at the gate happy to leave and sad that my last encounter and memory would be that I felt guilty for letting it happen, for not saying anything and for letting him get away with it… how was I so weak.

I sent my friend a message telling him what happened. He replied saying his so sorry and not everyone is like that but it sucks that I encountered such a dickhead.

The entire flight from India to Bangkok I would think about it. Not so much about what had happened, but about how I reacted. About how I was feeling when my incident was so small in comparison to what could have happened or what has happened to many women.

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

The entire flight from India to Bangkok I would think about it. Not so much about what had happened, but about how I reacted. About how I was feeling when my incident was so small in comparison to what could have happened or what has happened to many women.

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

I thought about my reaction - it was not the way I would ever imagine I would have reacted. I always think of myself as a strong and tell it how it is kind of women, I always imagine that in that situation I would be able to handle myself and could fight! Now, I know women get groped often when traveling, I know worst things happen, but they never had to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about how disappointed I was and then comparing it to how others in heavier situations may have felt.

The truth is, there are ways to be safe when traveling, believe me, I’m not one to tell you them, the whole time I was in India I worried about worst then this and when I was about 10 minutes from leaving, in a place that felt safe and controlled it happened… not when I was walking around Delhi alone, or in a bar with a stranger but when I least expected it and was certainly not prepared.

My heart goes out to women who experience this and worst, it is something I am very passionate about, thats why I created the sexual harassment forum and the safety forum. Please don’t let my story deter you from travelling India or from feeling afraid. Just know, that here you have a community of people who are always here to listen and provide as much safety as possible.

Safe travels

Sexual Harressment as a female travelling India

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