21 August 2013

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US student Michaela Cross shares her account of sexual harassment in India

US student Michaela Cross shares her account of sexual harassment in India

Dipesh Chakrabarty, a University of Chicago professor who was in India for the first three weeks of the session, told CNN  The Civilizations Abroad in India program was based in the city of Pune, but the students traveled to other areas during the semester.

A 23-year-old American student Michaela Cross once exposes the reality about how females feel safe in India and what they face which they never able to publicly tell anyone.

Michaela Cross, turned citizen journalist or I Reporter for CNN and has shared a horrific account of her study trip to India in 2012.

She has documented 'incessant sexual harassment', from groping to stalking and worse, including two attempts to rape her in the span of 48 hours

She left Pune for the US and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
Upon her return, she says she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and is now on a mental leave of absence from the school

When I went to India, nearly a year ago, I thought I was prepared. I had been to India before; I was a South Asian Studies major; I spoke some Hindi. I knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize. I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets. And I was prepared for the curiosity my red hair, fair skin and blue eyes would arouse.

But I wasn't prepared.

There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body, with no change of expression whether I met their gaze or not.
Walking to the fruit seller's or the tailer's I got stares so sharp that they sliced away bits of me piece by piece.
I was prepared for my actions to be taken as sex signals;
I was not prepared to understand that there were no sex signals, only women's bodies to be taken, or hidden away.

I covered up, but I did not hide. And so I was taken, by eye after eye, picture after picture. Who knows how many photos there are of me in India, or on the internet: photos of me walking, cursing, flipping people off. Who knows how many strangers have used my image as pornography, and those of my friends. I deleted my fair share, but it was a drop in the ocean-- I had no chance of taking back everything they took.

For three months I lived this way, in a traveller's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at;
The student counselors diagnosed me with a personality disorder and prescribed me pills I wouldn't take. After a public breakdown I ended up in a psych ward for two days held against my will, and was released on the condition that I took a "mental leave of absence" from school and went to live with my mother. I thought I had lost my mind; I didn't connect any of it to India-- I had moved on. But then a therapist diagnosed me with PTSD and I realized I hadn't moved a single inch. I had frozen in time. And I’d fallen. And I’d shattered.
But I wasn't the only one, the only woman from my trip to be diagnosed with PTSD, to be forced into a psych ward, to wake up wanting to be dead. And I am not the only woman who is on a mental leave of absence from the University of Chicago for reasons of sexual assault and is unable to take classes.

Following are the few questions she raised or important paras from her article
Study trip to India in 2012

Do I tell them about our first night in the city of Pune, when we danced in the Ganesha festival, and leave it at that? Or do I go on and tell them how the festival actually stopped when the American women started dancing, so that we looked around to see a circle of men filming our every move?

Do I tell them about bargaining at the bazaar for beautiful saris costing a few dollars a piece, and not mention the men who stood watching us, who would push by us, clawing at our breasts and groins?

She writes: "For three months I lived this way, in a traveler's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at; and yet I had adventures beyond my imagination. I hoped that my nightmare would end at the tarmac, but that was just the beginning."

Truth is a gift, a burden, and a responsibility. And I mean to share it," she writes. "This is the story you don't want to hear when you ask me about India. But this is the story you need."

Cross-said she did not say anything to the professors on the trip until things reached "a boiling point" -- what she called two rape attempts in 48 hours.

Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?

How, I ask, was I supposed to tell these stories at a Christmas party? But how could I talk about anything else when the image of the smiling man who masturbated at me on a bus was more real to me than my friends, my family, or our Christmas tree? All those nice people were asking the questions that demanded answers for which they just weren't prepared.

Many times such incidents happen in India but everyone keeps and maintains silence as reality is everyone fears the politicians, law officials, and criminals.

Suggested Reading –

Sexual harassment in India: 'The story you never wanted to hear  by Michaela Cross

India: the Story You Never Wanted to Hear - Ireport CNN

Reality views by sm –

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tags - Sexual Rape Harassment


rudraprayaga August 23, 2013  

Oh! Shameful.Stoop down in shame ,the Indians.Where is India going to under the rule of criminal politicians.

Unknown August 25, 2013  

I'm willing to bet that Michaela Cross has Borderline Personality Disorder, in addition to her alleged PTSD. Thousands of travellers go to India every day. I have been there twice with my family who are all white. She undoubtedly made some stupid choices and put herself in bad situations. There are hundreds of millions of people in India living below the poverty line. And most of them have never seen a white person before. They are staring in the same way we would if we grew up in the 50's and saw women dressed the way they do now. Besides, the last time I checked, staring and taking pictures in public places is 100% legal.

It seems to me that Ms. Cross should stay in her own country. She is quite obviously too naive to travel to parts of the world where some intelligence and good judgement is required.

Anonymous,  September 05, 2013  

Being an indian woman I empathize with Cross. Indian women live in a bizarre world of polarity. We r sole bearers of our safety. I can guarantee that cross has narrated the incidents honestly. Shame on those rascals, they should remember that heaven and hell both is experienced on earth...wish these marauders of respect have daughters one day..and experience hell on earth.

Anonymous,  September 11, 2013  

I am a non resident Indian and my wife is a foreign national of European descent. I have visited cities in north and west of India with my wife but we mostly visit Mumbai where my parents are originally from. I sympathize with Ms. Cross's ordeal which sounds like a genuine account that a solo female traveller may experience. Mumbai is more safe and my wife at times goes solo on the streets there without fear, but at other times caution is prudent and it is best advised to go places with a male companion. I have heard locals make indecent comments (Mumbai) on tourists and have also seen hooting (Delhi) as well seen group of guys walking with camera taking snaps of tourists (Goa). I am the confrontational kind and can get intimidating but its not easy for everyone to handle such situations. My wife doesnt bother or think much of what we experienced but its coz I was there with her and for her. There is nothing wrong with Ms. Cross to be shattered by her experience which any normal person would feel. She is sensitive and was not ready for the culture shock. I hope she has a better understanding and experience of India on her next visit.