Being a Western Woman in India…

25 Oct

So I have never posted to this blog, it’s kind of Anthony’s project and I leave him to it. It’s good to have projects, keeps people occupied and out of trouble. Well, the time has come to speak out- or rather rant about a major issue here in India. Being a white, Western woman in a land dominated by small, (I’m 6ft. and most men tower out at 5.6ft) mostly uneducated men.

Why is it that men who are holding hands, groping each other, etc. can stare at me, laugh at me, go out of their way to try to bump into me (yes, Anthony is right next to me) and otherwise harass me? In my country, in my world, this would never be considered acceptable. Oh sure, people are made fun of and all of that, but this is different. This is public harassment in a form I have never seen, and more than that- it is totally socially acceptable.

In this ancient society that is trying so hard to step up to the 21st century, staring and gawking are totally the norm and nothing is thought of in publicly harassing people. NOW, this I know is not just left for me- I have had so many conversations with white Western women from late teens to late 30’s who have just hit the end of being able to deal with this issue, feel harassed, bothered, unsafe or otherwise tired of the whole thing. The only place in India that I have been, where both other women and I felt safe was in the hill stations. Starting in Darjeeling and going upwards, the harassment abated and the jeering stares disappeared.

Harassment was replaced with curious stares, questions, smiles and fair conversation. At no time did I feel harassed and insulted- usually I was met with smiles, nice conversations and earnest questions. The harassment that I am referring to has been exclusive to the low lands of India.

Most of this behavior has been explained as the boys/men here only see sex coming out of the West and assume this is what all Western women are about. Oh shit, please. This is a society that allows boys/men to do what they want, when they want, rule with abandon and not give two craps about anything or anyone around. I have seen little boys hit their mothers, scream and yell and otherwise display behavior that made both Anthony and myself drop our jaws. With the “gut and a strut” fathers just standing there, smoking and otherwise not doing a damn thing. That’s just the way it is. In fact, some of the worst harassment I have encountered is by little boys being egged on by older men around them. The favorite is to come up, of course holding hands and groping each other (this will be discussed in a later post…sigh) and they stare. Then they try to get closer and closer, and they try to touch. Now mind you, the whole time Anthony is standing right next to me staring them down. I try to do the same, even saying something-but see, I don’t count! So whatever I do or say is ignored. But they won’t even look at Anthony. They won’t get near him, but they will circle around until he just about jumps them, then they saunter away playing kissy face with each other, pants hiked up under the armpit, belt wrapped 3 times around their waists laughing as loudly as possible. So this happens 6-7 times a day at least. Take that with the glaring stares, trying to touch or bump, and a lady just has enough.

I had a super conversation with a few women from Seattle, WA regarding this issue. They were young, in college, cute and all. Studying in Delhi for a few months and then touring India, (why didn’t I do this in college? There was more to do than get loaded? hmmm…) anyway, they had a few things to say also. We compared notes, and we vented. It was great!! I told them about the fantastic book “Holy Cow!” by Sarah MacDonald (just about this very issue) and they ran out and bought it, we spoke some more and laughed over the next few days. The thing we all agreed on was that we just didn’t understand this lust and lurking that these men do. I know they don’t get laid, they have the social maturity of a 5 year old (especially toward the opposite sex) and they are ignorant about so many things in the world. But come on.

I have not in any circumstance been met with this behavior by educated Indian men. I have had fantastic times with educated, intellectual Indian men. Call it respect even!! They know there is something outside of their world and have seen more… I appreciate it greatly. Hands shaken, eye contact, business cards exchanged. All very kind. Now come on, I know that they are looking- but it’s not the same. I am not ranting about looks, I am ranting about all out harassment.

So if anyone knows how to say “Get Fucked” in Hindi, or “Go fuck yourself” or “If you actually had sex instead of fantasizing about me then you might feel better” Please let me know. I really need to say something.


32 Responses to “Being a Western Woman in India…”

  1. little indian October 25, 2007 at 11:11 pm #

    What you experience up in the hilly regions was the norm all over India, and not to long ago. We were always curious about westerners, but would never harass them. I made friends on travels with western travellers with whom I still have contact.

    But India is changing, and fast. Sadly it is bringing out the worst in many of us.

    By tradition, men and women do not touch in public. Where as, it is perfectly natural for men to walk with arm on others’ shoulder; but not holding hands, that is odd.

    Till very recent Indian women wouldn’t wear shorts or short skirts or bodyhugging tops without something thrown over. Holywood/cable TV have given a wrong picture of the west to many Indians, who have their instinctive behaviour suppressed by the social norms.

    They equate women who can wear revealing clothes are easy. And they will have a go for a touch. Always building their courage in packs.
    There are westerners who visit looking for drugs and sex. That hasn’t help.

    Do not shout back obscenities, it will only make your image worse. You become a ‘bad woman’.

    But if you raise your voice, or even slap them for their improper behaviour, you will be surprised the support you get from passerbys and the public.
    For on the whole, people do not accept such behaviour.

    I ofcourse am talking of Kolkata here. I do not know what the other metropolis are like. The indigenous bengalees will be less of a problem than the non-bengalee in the city. I know many Indians will scream in protest, but in a relative sense, it is true.

    Stay away from areas where you think you are vulnerable. Speak to other westerners they will be your best guide on this.

    The India you are disgusted with, is the India that live life on the streets or by streetsides and so right in the face.
    The India who will treat you and everyone with respect are in their offices or houses, behind closed doors. You will not see them.

    Without bringing class into this, you will soon find where the problem is. Unlike many western cities, these two distinct classes live side by side and not segregated into “ghettos” or “rough area”.

    Goodluck. Hope you enjoy Kolkata.

  2. Adriana October 26, 2007 at 6:06 pm #


    It’s pretty common and part of the culture. Down in Pondicherry (now Puducherry), where they are also used to see, one would think a lot of westerners, the ashrams and AV strongly recommend that women cover themselves, or even wear local type of clothing. As there is a beach just right there, they ask you to please, if possible, not use bikinis, as to avoid these type of incidents. It does sound like down South, ‘men’ aren’t as aggressive though.
    Also, someone anorexic is not as attractive as someone fuller. Big bellies = healthy people.

    I remember once having a close encounter with someone like this in the beach. I was with my partner at the time (and yes, wearing a two piece bathing suit). The guy seemed totally inoffensive, until he started to get really close and wanted to touch me. He was alone and as soon as my partner saw this, he – and I – ‘scared’ him off. Lesson learnt… he left, I was more cautious next time.

    As the above comment says, good luck! You could always try dressing as Indian women and see what happens…


  3. Naresh Kumar Agarwal November 5, 2007 at 8:01 am #

    Hi, I totally identify with your post. It is not just you, or ‘western women’ only. Life for women in India is not safe out in the streets – yes, it gets better at the hill stations.

    It is only when Indian girls get out of India do they experience real freedom or what gender equality is. Respect for women is something most Indians need to learn. Yes, we worship female deities and place some women on pedestals – but life for an average Indian women is more difficult perhaps than women in the western world – at least when it comes to living life her terms.

    The only solution during your travel is to:

    a) Be careful
    b) Dress conservatively – not a full-proof safety mechanism, but might help to a certain extent
    c) Talk to educated Indian women to established the dos and dont’s – where to go and what times..and places to avoid..

    e.g. I know young girls in Kolkata will travel by public bus but hesitate to take a taxi alone

  4. Kim December 31, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    I’m sorry you experienced this while in India. I was there for three months and encountered the never-ending gawks of those around me. I knew beforehand that staring would occur, so I wasn’t shocked. Annoyed, yes, but not surprised. There were many aspects of India I enjoyed, but the thing that bothered me the most was how so many assumed that because I’m a white American, I was extremely wealthy (so the price of anything I asked about went up at least 50%) and that I wanted sex 24/7. It’s sad that they perceived this notion based on movies, and I guess I can’t blame them. You also shouldn’t blame them. Take it with a grain of salt. I know, it’s easier said than done, but seriously, you’re in their country so you should respect their customs, no matter how odd or rude you see it. And like another poster suggested, you should avoid using curse words, because it only lowers the image they already have of you. If nothing else, ignore them by walking away. Be a better person. There are many, many more wonderful Indians to meet, so don’t let the handful of idiots you encountered get you down.

  5. Meg January 15, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    I’ve just read your blog whilst researching an essay I’m planning about attitudes towards western women in India and I was glad to see that I’m not alone in this treatment. I travelled India for a month over christmas and new year 2007/2008. I knew before I left that I would have to dress conservatively – the only parts of my body I ever exposed whilst I was out there was my neck, face and arms below the elbow.
    However, being a six foot tall blonde girl I’d get attention where ever I went. On buses and in crowds men would touch me – quite obviously, it wasn’t just brushing up against me. I’d scowl and push them away but anyone who has experience with crowded government buses in India will know that there’s not a lot of space and so men are given plenty of opportunities to cop a feel.
    Walking down the streets late at night I’d get stares, comments. Once I even got followed back to the hotel by a guy trying to get me to get on his motorbike.
    I’m 16 and spend a lot of time living in London – a place where I’m used to and love the anonymity. Being in India was sort of like a slow torture. The people who were interested in me were fine.
    The men who considered me some kind of wealthy western slut were not fine, not at all. I constantly felt attacked and claustrophobic. I had no privacy, no time to myself.
    Oh, and the photographs.
    The Taj Mahal, which should’ve been the highlight of my adventure, was not. As soon as I walked through the gate I had men asking me for my photo with them. I posed for a couple. Some I said no to. But that didn’t stop people from taking photos of me as I was walking past. I was sat on a bench and a man came and sat down next to me and then someone took a picture. Just like that. No permission asked.
    We’re western girls, we’re blonde, we’re easy, we love having our photos taken.

    India was one of the best experiences of my life but by the end of it I just felt as if I had a wall built around me – any of the nice men who I could’ve had a nice, friendly conversation with were blocked out and ignored simply because the majority are too much to deal with.

  6. shy May 7, 2008 at 6:55 am #

    Dear A,

    I am Indian woman, lived in Delhi for 38 years and I know where your post is coming from. I am educated in the best schools, come from the upper middle class, have always been independent and led my life the way I wanted to and have felt at all times as victimised as you. Class, education, money do not play any role. Sometimes, the “higher” up you go, the more they will try, the more liberties they will take. The women who deny this behaviour are either so previliged that do not have to come in contact with the “masses”.

    Someone here just commented, “The India who will treat you and everyone with respect are in their offices or houses, behind closed doors. You will not see them.” – I have seen them mister.

    • Dhruv October 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

      Dear Madam,

      When you talk about best schools, do you mean ones in Delhi? I would beg to differ from your views. You talk about men, have you ever thought about the women in India? They are also not the ideal ones are they?
      If you were so well off, would it not have been possible for you to go to Europe and live a decent and respectful life there?

      Have you seen family fights… they are all about women… from the days of Ramayana it was the woman who perpetrated the ugliest things.
      I agree that women faced injustice from villains, but I would like to submit that there is an equal proportion of vamps in India as well…

      And by the way what happens in your “upper middle class” family does not happen in mine “lower middle class”. Probably because my family does not accept the tradition of dowry… And the mother of the guy’s side is as involved (if not more) in all these incidents as the father…

      So please instead of putting all the blame on the men, kindly consider distributing at least a part of it on women as well. After all it is the Indian woman who wants a rich man with good prospects and a good family name rather than a man of limited means who would actually love her. Well that is true for women over the world, is it not?

      So I would beg you to kindly refrain from putting the general image of the Indian woman as one being victimized… There is a fare share of dirt among them also…

      A well educated man who has not seen anything at all!

      • ExpatMomma October 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

        You are correct in having some blame on the women but in the same breath you completely contradicted yourself! You stated, “After all it is the Indian woman who wants a rich man with good prospects and a good family name rather than a man of limited means who would actually love her. Well that is true for women over the world, is it not? ” This is a complete generalization of all women and you are completely WRONG! Not all women are about money and a good family name. Women in India are held to a different standard than the men, are they not? They are expected to act a certain way, are they not? They are expected to be submissive to the men, are they not? This all being said, the men do carry more of the cause because they are the “dominant” people of the country.
        Of course there are bad and good with each gender… That is obvious and all people can figure that out without your accusations/generalizations. Blame all you want on the women. Any person with common sense can see that you are tossing the blame for equal to, if not worse than the men which simply isn’t true.
        The men had to be controlling for reasons of culture. They had to take the lead for reasons of culture. Yes, times are changing but the majority of the problems do indeed rest with the majority holders… men.

  7. littleindian May 9, 2008 at 1:36 am #

    @ shy,
    to try and get things into perspectives.

    What you describe is sexual harassment, where someone in a position of power and authority, mostly in the workplace but not always, takes advantage of their subordinate’s vulnerability. It is prevelent in every society. And not exclusively committed by men.

    What this lady wrote in the original article is the issue of attitude of Indian men towards western women. Which is not the same issue. What I have written is from my own observation.

    Finally you say “I have seen them mister”. I will not contradict. Yes you may have seen the harassers. But how many have you seen? A hundred, a thousand? Ten thousand? It still is a tiny fraction in a population as large as India.

    But you write as if every Indian man is a lecher. I resent that generalisation. I am an Indian man, from fairly ‘higher’ up society. I have treated all women with respect all my life.

    During my hiking days, I met and made friends with many western men and women, many still keep in touch. I never behaved improperly with anyone.

    If you yourself have been subjected to improper behaviour, your anger is justified, but only against the perpetrator(s), not the who Indian male population.

  8. Mathew Philip Mattathu May 15, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    I totally agree with “ Little Indian “

    I am an Indian man too and am living in Europe . ( in Germany to be precise)

    I can proudly say that I have never attacked a woman or behaved indecently with a woman even when I had downed almost 8-10 beers. The excuse that men make that alcohol makes them bad is tosh .

    Once, when I was walking back home at around 3am in Berlin , I saw a scantily clad woman walking and she was obviously drunk .However , none of the guys on the road at that time even made lewd gestures. I started thinking “ When would my country ( India ) be like that “. When will a half naked lady be able to walk the streets and not be accosted, molested or raped? When ? When ?

    However, if that lady was in the USA , she would probably get attacked. It is strange but in Germany ,you hardly hear of rapes. Why is that ? What is so special about the German culture ? Why is that the famed Indian culture and the American culture for that matter breed rapists.

    I think it has to do with less hypocrisy where women and men here throng to nude beaches in some areas, sex is openly shown on TVs and people are open about kissing et al in public . Of course, in a lecherous country like ours, we cannot have all this change all of a sudden .The assholes there would just go berserk . We need to first get rid of Pseudo moralists like the Shiv Sena and other religious organizations or at least ask them to mind their own businesses. They are no one to tell us Indians how to live our lives. Then ,we must have the death sentence for all rapists and all rape cases should be cracked no matter the cost . There is nothing worse you can do to a girl than raping her. This is the worst thing you can do to a girl

    My girlfriend told me of umpteen incidents ( She is Indian , an intellectual upper class or whatever you call it Indian woman and of course attractive ) when some men tried to molest her or at least masturbated looking at her . Poor thing !

    So ,no upper class woman is safe . About Indian men in general . Many of them are sex starved . The moment they go abroad ,even some of the educated ones ( the ones who come to countries like Germany are usually highly qualified ) , behave in a lecherous manner. They think all German women or western women are easy but most of them just get slapped or they are ignored. Such men are useless pathetic souls.I have gone out and dated many western women but I know some of the misconceptions people have about Indian men just because of what some idiots do . However, after getting to know me , all these women think I am a gem and some of them had romantic interests and many of them had sexual interests. Thankfully , I am not a guy who believes in one night stands. One of my friends here though gets involved in a lot of one night stands with western women .He is a pervert but then again he finds a lot of perverted western women too .

    My point is that there are bad women everywhere and so are there bad men .

    For all the western ladies who visit India : my advice is try and dress conservatively . Travel in pairs and do not trust Indian men that easily . There are nice ones out there but many of them just want to get into your pants. Don’t degrade yourself . Before I end ,I had like to add that some of the westerners are to blame too . Especially some women who come or came to Goa . They just had rave parties and sex and drugs was all what they had on their minds

    To be continued…….

  9. Shanti June 2, 2008 at 4:16 am #

    Hello to all,

    As an indian women who grew up mostly in USA since high school, I find that indian men on the internet are mostly letchers as one person put it. This internet has showed me how low indian men can stoop to abuse women if she does not meet their perfect image of a woman ( as if any of them do with their huge pig bellies falling over their belts and their fat ass crack showing in the back because the pants don’t fit well anymore).

    In person most will pretend to be civil and ultimately polite but once you get them behind the veil of the internet, the lewd jeering man of the street arrives ( my cousine is not exception as I found out one day). The same who would smile at you in your face and pretend to be so shocked if you offered to pay for anything as their guest and who wish all kinds of blessings in your fact from god are the same two faced jerks that will bump you if they do not know you and if they do know you then they will tell their friends ( unknown to you) to go bump you on their behalf ( by “mistake” of course )

    The best part of being bumped is they then turn around and curse you out for getting angry at them for minding that they bumped you– this has happened to me from fresh off the boat indian guys in the malls). The nastiness does not stop there.

    Don’t think they do this only to western wome because they think they are easy. Indian women get this EVERYDAY and are not expected to complain or make a peep or else the word gets around “mysteriously” of course to their family or job of some trumped up lie and they can loose their job or be turned against by the in laws because a “friend” of the husband minded “something” vague you said or did. Other times it is just outright viscious lies that are told against the woman and she is rediculed and even outcast from her inlaws home ( usually the only home she knows since it is a great embarassment for the girl to go back to her parents home) or job.

    So the harassment of women permiates to all levels. The worst is where kids are molested by a family member ( usually uncles) . This is another rampent problem in india. It just never stops. The worst of it is that it is a male dominant society so the woman has to bear all the fault even if she was only the victim of the man’s abuse. Even society does not support the woman unless it is other women who have experienced the same and even they may not say anything for fear of bad reprecussions against them should word get back to the abusive men of why they said.

    So indian life for an indian woman is pertty much that of a work slave for the inlaws as they usually get the wife to substitute for servants and do not have to pay her for all the work in the house.

    The indian woman is pretty much the doormat on which the entire family of the groom wipes their feet and over that takes all the money and items from her parents as a favor for marrying their daughter. If the girls parents run out of gifts ( and these gifts are asked over the lifetime of the marriage) then the girl must be prepared for the possibility of being killed off by the groom and the inlaws.

    Hence the increased deaths for the newborn girls in india by the hands of the girl’s parents to avoid future poverty though lifetime of payment of dowry at the hands of the groom and his parents .

    Indian marriages, for this reason, are a prision sentance for most women because her care is equivalent to that of an animal ( animals do not get any care in india as food for people is priority).

    These same men who bump western women actually ” bump off” their wives when the dowry runs out by burning her in the kitchen by ” accidental kitchen fire”. This avoids the problem of embarassment of the man of being called divorcee ( a term that is equivalent to damaged goods in india) and he can go out and smile at the next girl, put up his best polite face and marry again for more dowry.

    should they give birth to a girl they are abused by the in laws because the boy is the only way to pass on their name and who will bring the dowry. Even if indian men are divorced and considered damaged goods even by their own standards, they will usually seek the 18 year old and always ask if there is someone much younger in my family even though it is my ad and they are replying to me.

    So the rudeness of indian men is much much deeper problem that is based in their disdain for women in general. Hope that can give some prespective on the indian man’s thinking

  10. Anita June 3, 2008 at 5:19 pm #


    I am from India, married there and came here. My husband ( a highly educated engineer) goes around bumping into women all the time and does not even look at me.

    It is common for indian men to do this because it give them a sense of power. Indian women are mere property/objects for them to buy at a price through dowry and to dispose of if they choose for more dowry from another girl. Maybe it is for this reason HIV is so rampant in India.

    That is why the concept of LOVE is non existant in the traditional indian setting. That is why people can get married over a two week period wich involves placing an ad in the newspaper, discussing the dowry and marrying the highest bidder. Of course there are always exceptions to every rule but this is the process in 88% of the time.

    The female child is seen as a burden if it is first born expecially because it will not carry on the family name and will be total finacial loss to the parents when it comes to paying the dowry. You already know the fate of these in many families as listed above.

    The rudness you have experienced as a visitor is still a not a bad thing because you get to leave it behind. Indian women are prisioners of much more than just being bumped into without regard to their rights. Don’t get me wrong, there are many indian men who are nice but the majority are the street lechers mentioned above.

    Don’t let the suit and tie with the degree fool you. The primitive indian male ego under the suit is as destructive as as a rhino’s horn up the backside and as thick skinned. As the candidate above said, they smile in your face and stab in the back.

    I suppose many indian males who have come into the modern society can claim to have clean hands in this regard because they have had their backside kicked by the rules of respecting others rights in the modern society like the guy who wrote all about how he has Never done something like this. Sure!!.

    They lack the courage to attack openly when they are outnumbered in a new environment and do not have their circle of friends to support them like the street letchers in india. So don’t let that fool you into thinking they won’t try their tricks when they can one on one. or just get them in a crowded subway or street where they can bump into women as much as they like because they can say the crowd made them do it. We know better.

    India can be a dangerous place to visit for this reason, just like any other third world country. women are especially a target because of the male dominant structure. And usually the woman is alone in her suffering because there are no rights for women unless she happens to be lucky to marry a nice man.

    • Dhruv October 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

      A very nice and fiery comment madam… But are you forgetting… if you are unhappy in your marriage… it is because you married the wrong man… and hey!
      It was a bloody arranged marriage… You could have just refused???

      Why blame all of Indian men? Do you think America is better… well yes it may be… But excuse me… I know women from the US… and they have told me that guys there are also perverts…

      Middle and upper class Indian women are served everything on the platter…

      I would say… your husband does not look at you?? (ofcourse he is a pervert!)… but have you given a thought to the idea that It is an extremely high probability that you are not pretty enough??… and your family paid that guy’s family just to “marry you off”… you two never loved each other in the first place…
      So you are expecting love in a marriage where there wasn’t any to start with…

      Your parents just wanted to marry off to a guy who was in the US that you would have a better life… So did US end up better for you than INdia?
      Please do remember… are the US guys nicer??… look at the bloody divorce rates… they divorce their spouses if they are denied sex for more than 10 times!! I am sorry madam… but at least Indians won’t do that… at least good ones…

      You have made yourself a part of a business deal and thus I would suggest you to not expect anything more from him than you would from your client…

      The best possible way out is to divorce him… but even then you might have a bad life…. just because if you are not even semi good looking then a good guy might not fall in love with you… but if you are employed or employable that might not be a bad thing after all…
      But if not, then you should continue in this marriage professionally and impersonally… and just let that guy be…

  11. Shy June 3, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    @ Shanti – totally empathise.

  12. Mathew Philip Mattathu June 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Shanti ,

    I think you are generalizing . I am an Indian man too and I do use the internet a lot actually . The kind of people you are talking about are not only ones on the internet but even people who you and I know . I think you are quite exaggerating about women losing their jobs because they resisted advances or so .
    I just got married recently and do not see my wife as a slave or whatever. I married my sweetheart because she is special and I am sure that she will vouch that I am not a lecher. In addition to this ,I have dated women of different nationalities and seen some pretty decent Indian men myself . I am not saying that you said that all Indian men are like that but your post does show Indian men in poor light. I come from Kerala and there is hardly any female infanticide . So,you are wrong there . You start with saying most Indian men but the rest of your blog seems to imply as if all these atrocities are common place everywhere in India .
    I therefore request you to be objective before generalizing

  13. Sam June 10, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    I have noticed that many young Indian men come to the United States and other western countries with the IT sector. Many of these men show the same attitudes towards women. In fact, in the United States, there is a very popular television show called “To Catch a Predator” in which the police and NBC TV crew impersonate a minor girl on the internet and attempt to catch men who are sexual predators of children. Most of the men caught are INDIAN!! There are several Youtube episodes of this. Indian men in the United States also routinely visit prostitution houses and strip clubs and show a classless attitude towards women. Is it any wonder that India has one of the worst HIV problems in the world? There is something grossly wrong with the Indian society that encourages such behavior.

  14. Indian person June 14, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    The meat comodity market of marriage is really a business and one must not mistake it for anything even resembling the western idea of love between a man and woman. The two partners are pretty much workers in a business called marriage.

    the primitive india man ego is a good concept and i have to add it comes with every FOB (Fresh Off The Boat indian guy) that goes to any other country. Even at their death bed, they still think like this. It is only the new generation that is growing up in western countries that one can expect to see any semblance of the western values towards women.

    Also, women’s lib as it pertains to job and work is no barrier to the indian woman as money is the primary objective to survive in that poverish country.

    Corruption flourishes there like bacteria on rotting carcas and if you need help, stay quiet and don’t call the cops. They will rob you first then maybe ask what happened. If you are a woman, rape by cops is always a real possibility and pretty common.

    After all, these are the same street men who bump women. The only difference is that the suit gives them more power and audacity as they are the law and can mold it to their own need, especially in the back streets of India.

    They may kiss ass of westerners in order to gain more clout in the eyes of their colleagues and be on their best behavior in public. In private, that is another matter. Of course, there are the one in a trillion good cops and those are usually home, minding house and raising their kids after hours.

    So the corruption, bribary etc etc is never ending and more prevalant than the HIV that someone mentioned.

    It is common for family members to bump off another family member via a third party to gain their property, money, car, jewels.

    So poverty is a worse disease than even HIV in india. if there was an innoculation against poverty, HIV would not be a problem because in general indians believe in high morals, but poverty does not allow the luxury of ethics when one is starving and one has to feed growing mouths at home.

    In the times of my grandmother, when my father was small and the population was much less, my father told me of times when unknown travelers would knock on my grandparents home for rest at night. This was quite common. My grandparents would take them in and feed them. Next day they would countinue on their journey. I cannot imagine such things during my lifetime in india.

    If indian politician would have the courage to forgoe their greed for votes and enforce contraception, India would be a prosperous place. Look at China. They controlled their population by the force of law. Maybe India can learn something from China.

  15. Mathew Philip Mattathu June 19, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    I think you are just over exaggerating . You cannot generalize or at least you are not supposed to . Try and be objective . I mean not all Indian men can be characterized like the way you the portray them . Not that you said all of them were like that but your post above suggests the same .

  16. Curry with some worry August 19, 2008 at 6:08 am #

    I totally agree, that all this is exaggeration when seen from the lifestyle of USA. Women of USA can be thankful for all the freedom they enjoy. They can wear miniskirts, tank tops with no reprecussions of being groped, jeered, degraded and cursed publically.

    Yes, all of this is pure exaggeration because it does not happen in USA ( at least not in public). Women have the luxury to not know about any of these problems unless they travel abroad. Only then are they shocked out of their socks and get an ugly reality check so they have to write about it on the net.

    Then the men here write that all of what the creator of this site says is pure exaggeration because these men were not there when it happened to the girl who experienced the abuse in the streets with her BF right next to her as witness.

    Of course, the BF may not consider what happened to her as abuse because it was not happening to him and he probably could not relate to her feelings because he was trying to enjoy his tour and take photos and shop for souveniers and he probably thought she was exaggerating the whole thing and killing his fun.

    It is not uncommon among Indian men ( and maybe US men) to deny wrongs done to their wives or daughters by other men because it is more important to appear cool with the other dude.

    Also to admit a problem is difficult because one never knows when one needs people’s help in India and admition of a problem requires some action that can damage that connection for some “future Favor” that may be needed. So eveyone stays quiet and the abuse is tolerated in silence by everyone.

    It would seem Mr. Philip would prefer that the creator of this website stay quiet and not voice her objections to her treatment in the streets of India as it is pure exaggeratoin in the contex of US freedoms for women as the men here cannot imagine such things ( for which we should all be grateful).

  17. Boo phil August 19, 2008 at 7:03 am #

    All I can say is, “Three cheers for USA!!!”

    There is a new show on tv called ” Traveling Abroad” This phillip guy should see it. I am sure he will be in denial of what happens in that show as well.

    Just two months ago CNN aired a case in Chicago where a guy from Asia burned his married daughter, her husband and the child while they slept in their apartment. His excuse for doing so was that she married out of their caste system ( as if such a three headed monster even exists and would be absolutely denied by that philip guy)

    Another story aired last year by CNN was about an indian guy living in USA who was sueing an Indian girl in India that had been arranged for his marriage by his parents. Apparently he thought she was too ugly for him and that was what he told the judge was the basis for the lawsuit. CNN people were truly disgusted by this indian guy’s bad behavior. If they only knew that he only represents the tip of the iceburg of bad behavior by indians and this type of thing goes on all the time because most indian men are momma’s boys.

    All the stuff about indian men written here is all over internet. Read it all in the newspapers of India. There are so many articles that describe the cruelty of indian men on women over dowry and money and just because they can like in the case of the girl who made this website.

    Why would anyone make a website to describe the nasty indian men if it was not based on a real personal experience?

  18. Mathew Philip Mattathu October 20, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Well , I never said the creator of the site could not voice her opinion or anything of that sort . All I said to suggest that being a Western women in India is quite hard because of the men is plain exaggeration .Like it or not . I have never even said anything to a women in a derogatory manner . You may not believe it but I do not need to prove it to anyone . Yes, I am an Indian man . I have some very decent male friends but I also have some friends who think every women is just for pleasure. So ,please stop generalizing

  19. Mathew Philip Mattathu November 1, 2008 at 6:55 pm #


  20. A Ninan February 10, 2009 at 7:23 pm #

    I totally agree with all that you said in your blog except that the behaviour you experienced is not just with western women but for all women. Growing up in Metropolitan Bangalore, while using public transport to travel to school, I learnt the hard way as an innocent 13 year old that its best to stick to the front of the bus even hanging out of the door just to avoid lecherous men. i learnt to avoid making eye contact with anybody so that I didnt have to deal with dirty looks and I pretended to be deaf so that the other person wouldnt get the satisfaction of a reaction. The only time I enjoyed being independent in Bangalore was when I stopped travelling by buses/autos and started zipping around on a two wheeler, covered head to toe, jacket/helmet etc. so that men drivers didnt realize it was a girl riding.
    When I came to the Seattle on work, I was amazed at the difference and how I was totally ignored. I loved being ignored! I only had one bad experience on a bus and that I think was racially motivated and the young men involved were drunk and to give them credit one guy actually ripped the other guy’s shirt to stop him from harrassing me anymore.
    The only sexual harrassment that I faced here in the US were from, you guessed right, Indian guys. I was with my husband in New Jersey and these guys travelling in a car made lewd comments and whistled at me. I am sure they were IT guys here on work.
    Sure all Indian men cannot be generalized into one horde of lecherous men. But the sheer number of men you encounter is enough for you to have nothing to do with them and as I told my husband. The #1 reason why I dont want to go back to India.

  21. HyderabadChick June 6, 2009 at 5:13 am #

    I am a large built, older black female. I have it on good authority that I am far, far from what is considered attractive in India or any Asian society. Accepted.

    Yet I get many of the same behaviours described by white women. And the hair – oh, let me never dare to show my hair in public. Obviously, I’m just asking for random people to reach out touch!

    I cover up completely – salwars, long pants with oversized tops, ankle length skirts again with big tops. However, I don’t seem to get credit for following the rules of the dress code. Indian men give themselves complete permission to stare, give me a frank up-down right to my face and if they do interact with me – to make suggestive remarks about ‘American relationships’.

    Now, when I walk to and from work, I wear shades, cover my face in the manner of Muslim women and ensure that only my hands and feet are visible.

  22. Lesley January 29, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    Well, I spend a lot of time in India and I have to say I don’t find much in the way of harrassment. OK, maybe it is because I am a 6ft 2″ well padded woman and not even remotely pretty.
    I do mainly interact with educated men here (as I am here on business) and they treat me at worst like a member of their family and at best like royalty. But I have also been out and about with the “normal people” and OK, the odd person stares (mainly the women!) and you get infrequent shouts from “kids” but most of the time people are respectful and just want me to have a good impression of their country.

    I spend most of my time in Kanataka and Tamil Nadu so I don’t know if this makes a difference?

  23. indian May 4, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Im a 19 year old indian male that lives in Canada, but i only moved here when i was thirteen. Im sorry to hear that you suffered so much harrasment during your stay in India. Im actually surprised after reading the details. I knew that harrasment existed there but i did not know the extent of it. Im from the south (chennai), pretty much the same place where Lesley spent her time and i did not notice harassment to this extent but im sure it exists in parts of the country. Im curious, where exactly did you spent your time in India?

  24. Soni May 10, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Dear A..

    Yes. India has been and will probably be this way for a very long time. The thing u experienced in hill-stations can be for two reasons, i feel. One it is maybe because they do get a lot of exposure to the people from abroad (and indians everywhere..i mean EVERYWHERE, are obsessed with a fairness as a skin tone). Also the north eastern states are traditionally matriarchal in nature.
    I did read Holy Cow when i was in college. And it was shocking and quite an eye opener. And trust me Indian women also have been harrassed everyday. But the only problem is we either learn how to retort back, or in sad cases, we just get used to it.
    As an indian, i feel sorry that you have had to face this. So much for honouring our guest! blah!

  25. Daniel May 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Have a look at another great article on being a Western woman in India:

  26. Dhruv October 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I am an Indian male 21…

    1. India sucks over all!

    2. There are good Indian men and bad Indian men… I believe most are bad though…

    3. To western women… I am ashamed of my
    country I can just say sorry to you… But that is India… see… why do you come here… why… please don’t… Its not that I would not like you to come here… but ladies… this country is so bad! We are not taught to honor women… Right from the childhood we see the father hitting the mother… we see women posing naked on the screens… we lose our sense of what women are…
    We lose the sense that they deserve respect…

    4. To Indian women… well… most of them are fat and ugly… I once stood at the train station… and I could see… everybody’s wife was BLAH! … Indian women mostly have the misconception that every man is running behind them… Excuse me! Hello there! Please do consult a mirror first! And if you feel, you are still getting stalked then then it must be that the poor guy can’t simply see… or he even would have sex with cows to satisfy himself… so I just feel sorry for everybody…

    5. To the post writer… Thank you for writing this wonderful page… your views are so very genuine and correct and greatly expressed.

  27. sudhir May 29, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    In the same way indians are regarded as cheap, poor, corrupt etc in Western countries, the same way western people are regarded as sexually promiscous and immoral in asian countries. There is a grain of truth in both these cases. I am an indian man, and must say I have never seen a western woman in the company of a husband or family. They all travel with temporary “boyfriends” and “partners”. But I do not condone the mistreatment of western women (or Indians in west).

  28. Gaurav M December 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Sorry you had such bad experiences in India. But please be understanding that not all Indians are like this!
    There are Indians who have lived in Western Cultures and are living in India again like myself who abhor bad behavior which harasses tourists. Just like we are tourists in your country, you are also welcome to be tourists in our country. Unfortunately idiots are everywhere who don’t respect their country’s guests.
    Best wishes on your future trips and my advice to you would be to go in groups or something if you feel insecure going alone (safety wise / because of gawking indian males in india). etc.

    • Martinique Samuelson November 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      I am a 27 year old Indian woman who is educated and single. I reside in Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. My city is thought of as one of the most broad minded cities in India but the atrocities against women here testify otherwise. India is a sexually repressed country. I must point out that both men and women have sexual urges and needs that go unmet because of restrictive traditions and culture and the indisputable fact that premarital sex (especially of the unprotected kind) puts women at risk of enduring difficult pregnancies and the social stigma of single parenthood. Older generations have also offered the explanation that children of unwed mothers face an identity crisis as society can never be too sure of such a child’s origins even if the mother is. This is a situation which can wreak havoc among doubting Thomas fathers who expect vestal virgins for brides. Indian men are known to cast eyes of suspicion on the women they marry because they see the act of childrearing as a financial investment.

      In India, women have a much greater responsibility to control their sexual desires and be ‘good little wives, mothers or daughters.’ Men feel entitled to sex whether the women they are targeting want it or not and they tend to be hypersensitive to even remote signals that they imagine a woman is sending them. This is how even a smile or a friendly handshake is taken as consent by men with malicious intent. The men’s own mothers and sisters aggravate this problem by turning a blind eye to their son’s/brothers’ faults and pandering to every male whim because he is either the breadwinner or the accepted decision maker in the family.

      This is why many Indian men want to attach a family title to strange women that they meet so that every woman they encounter fits a specific role of a ‘good’ woman in their eyes. When this is not possible, they assume the woman is ‘easy’ and will engage in risky sex with full knowledge of what such encounters could do to her reputation. This is why your neighbourhood shopkeeper, washerman or vegetable lender is likely to address you as aunty or didi (elder sister) or beti (daughter) just so that he has an idea of where you fit in. There are times when such men do all this only to gain your trust and attack you at an opportune time when your guard is down. When in India, don’t stay out too late and don’t wear transparent or tight clothing, stay alert to what is going on all around you but avoid eye contact or verbal/physical duels with potential molesters and hold onto your purse. Do NOT hitchhike in India, there can be disastrous consequences if you trust the wrong person. Molesters and lechers come from different social strata from auto rickshaw drivers to passengers in high end Mercedes cars. Men who lurk in public places in India are like Neanderthals and they need to be treated as such. India is behind the west in matters concerning gender equality but until India catches up, it would serve western women well to follow certain precautions. All the best to western women who are visiting India. Stay safe and enjoy yourselves.

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