Surprised much? Well, you shouldn’t be. Given the kind of negative global media reportage and conjecture over women’s security in India, it is not really surprising that women from around the world are shying away from visiting our country which has always (at least on paper) believed in the concept of ‘ Athiti devo bhava’, which translates to our guest is like our God.
However, this time the Indian image has taken a serious hit as a ‘white female scientist from Canada’ as she puts it, is considering a research position in Bangalore but is developing cold feet at the thought of spending time in India. Taking her apprehension to the Internet, this woman has openly asked locals from India for ‘unbiased advice’ with a detailed post on Reddit.
Here’s what she posted:
For ease of perusal, here’s the text of the post:
“Hello all. First off, thanks for taking a look at my wall of text, and I’d like to apologize in advance for any of the unfair portrayals of India that are summarized below (all paraphrased from travel blogs/media articles). Having said that, I’m going to be entirely blunt with you, because I think it’s important that I represent myself and my concerns honestly. So without further ado, here’s the deal: I’m a single, white female considering a research position in Bangalore, however I’m finding it rather difficult to get an accurate sense of what I could expect if I were to move there. Most media representations of women’s safety and freedoms-even in Bangalore-seem bleak as hell. Given the level of negativity, I honestly can’t tell how much to believe and how much is being vastly distorted by Western media in an effort to rile up the viewers. Much of what I’ve read seems too extreme to be true and I’m hoping that some honest, first-hand advice from your sub can help me cut through the BS (without whitewashing the cultural differences that are genuine and important for safety). For instance, many of the articles would lead you to believe that if you’re a Western woman: You can expect to be regularly harassed, groped, screwed over by rickshaw drivers, and coaxed down dark alleys by thieves. Leaving your apartment between dusk and dawn couldn’t be more dangerous if you were in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Engaging men in conversation, or even smiling at them, implicitly encourages harassment (basically, either you must act like a bitch or you’re propositioning strangers for sex). Western women are generally considered sluts, and if I drink or smoke I’m doubly damned. If I do decide to engage in a sexual relationship and it becomes public knowledge, it will offend or incite harsh judgement from others and confirm all the worst stereotypes about loose Western women. Now for an honest self-assessment: I am very much your typical Canadian city chick. I drink heartily and hang out with friends of both sexes in groups and one on one until the early hours of the morning on a regular basis. I’m quite confident, cheerful, and friendly with strangers. Nobody has ever accused me of being meek, though, and I’m intolerant of assholery. I am polite by default, but generally very casual in my interactions with others. I dress fairly modestly by Canadian standards, although I’m perfectly happy to wear whatever is culturally appropriate. I would be seriously disappointed to discover that I have to limit most of my interactions to one gender, and it’s even odds that if somebody grabbed my ass in a crowd my reflexive response would be to boot them in the nads. I am also not at all used to dealing with sexism in the workplace or in public, and am unlikely to respond well to it. I live in an extremely safe city and, as a result, probably have underdeveloped street smarts. So, on a scale of 1 (totally untrue) to 10 (completely true) how accurate are all of these “warnings”? Also, what are your best tips to ensure that both I and those I meet have the best possible interactions with one another?”