Harassment and rape are the rule of thumb in India, says writer who studied there

Published: January 16, 2013


There are rules a woman should remember in India, says our writer. If you don’t, then ‘you’re asking for it.’ Submitted photo

If you are a female of any age on your own on the street, public transit or any other public place, you are a sitting duck for sexual harassment. If you want to avoid that, you do not venture out alone or do not attract attention in any other way. However, if you are bold enough to be out and about in order to get your things done, then “you are just asking for it.” That is the rule of thumb in India.

It was a hard rule to swallow for me and numerous other students from North America who went to India to study at a University in the south for four years. It was a university that hired its own private security, which made the campus area extra safe but there were strict regulations that we all (especially girls) needed to follow. We were in an all-girls residence (called hostels in India). We had a curfew that required beginners be in their rooms before 9 p.m. and more senior students before midnight. If anyone violated that, their parents were informed of the infraction.

No guys were allowed in the hostel. Family members needed special permission. In a nearby metropolitan city, they had a strict no-dancing policy in clubs because women were presumably putting themselves at risk by doing so. I remember we were warned not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it would be a call out for danger. Coming from Canada, the rules and regulations all seemed so foreign. My friends and I would find them ridiculous and backward.

As time went on, we realized that they were designed to keep us safe. We heard several stories about students who were raped, and then threatened by senior students that if they reported it, their reputation with the university would be ruined and families would find out. There was an incident where a conservative political party led an attack to beat up on women who had gone to a local bar for a casual night out.


We ourselves, many times, got first-hand experience of feeling unsafe. If we were travelling in a train, which is a common means of transportation in the country, and were not lucky enough to get an air-conditioned compartment, we would be extra cautious to make sure that we were not alone and always surrounded by a group of friends. We would keep an eye out to check what men surrounded our compartment. If we felt a pair of gawking eyes staring at us or someone breathing down our necks, we knew it was not the time to question anything or to prove our point but instead to follow those embedded instructions. We would push up our scarves to hide most of our face and stare out the window and not ask for any more attention. Never stare back, retaliate or, better yet never sit in the third tier or what they call the non air-conditioned compartment.

If these simple instructions were not followed, well, then “you’re just asking for it.” According to a billion people that was the rule of thumb.

I never really understood that phrase “you’re just asking for it.” According to Freudian theory it is an example of an immature human defence mechanism where a man is rationalizing his animalistic urge and feeling of guilt by using the common phrase “she was asking for it.” On behalf of all women I think I can speak out loud that no woman asks to be sexually harassed in any way. So the rule of thumb needs to change.

It is the men who act, and women should not be held responsible for the dangers they face while going about their daily business. India not only needs to strengthen its laws and mobilize its law enforcement agencies but also move the minds of its millions of people through education and awareness. Perhaps only then some of the phrases can change.

Ray Grewal is a medical student who writes for Vancouver Desi.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Nepal earthquake

Almost 1400 killed in deadly Nepal earthquake that shook Everest

BINAJ GURUBACHARYA And MUNEEZA NAQVI THE ASSOCIATED PRESS KATHMANDU, Nepal — Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a…
Continue Reading »

Surrey Six

Forum at Surrey gurdwara to address recent shootings and drugs-related violence

‘The gurdwara feels responsible to pro-actively engage with the public in stopping this senseless violence’ SURREY NOW SURREY — Eileen Mohan, the mother of “Surrey…
Continue Reading »


Surrey NDP MPs Jinny Sims and Jasbir Sandhu call on Tories to help stop shootings

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — Surrey’s NDP MPs are calling on the federal Conservative government to do something to help stop a flurry of…
Continue Reading »


Witnesses describe chaos in quake-hit Nepal; at least 388 Canadians registered

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Reena Vohra was walking through a narrow alley in an ancient city in Nepal when an immense magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck,…
Continue Reading »

Witnesses describe chaos in quake-hit Nepal; at least 388 Canadians registered

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Reena Vohra was walking through a narrow alley in an ancient city in Nepal when an immense magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck,…
Continue Reading »


At least 388 Canadians registered in earthquake devastated Nepal: officials

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — The Foreign Affairs Department says it is closely monitoring the situation in Nepal, where an earthquake has killed nearly 1,200…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...


Harold & Kumar actor Kal Penn stars in film being shot in B.C.

MICHAEL D. REID TIMES COLONIST Kal Penn is coming to town to star in The Girl in the Photographs, a horror feature that began shooting…
Continue Reading »


Video shows a mom beating school staff after her daughter was stopped from carrying cellphone

  HINDUSTAN TIMES A woman allegedly beat up the director of a school in Jalandhar after her daughter was stopped from carrying a mobile phone…
Continue Reading »

fetish-desi sex-school girl-viral video

Video shows a young girl being brutally beaten with a stick, kicked by her father

VANCOUVER DESI A viral video of a father brutally beating up a young girl will make you shiver with anger and disgust, and want to…
Continue Reading »

gang life prevention

End Gang Life: Problems surrounding gun violence run deeper than skin colour or culture

SGT. LINDSEY HOUGHTON SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Kids are shooting at each other.  The violence these children are engaged in with each other has now…
Continue Reading »

desi sex-video-lust-bollywood

Video shows how a woman reacted when a pervert kept staring at her breasts

VANCOUVER DESI In a conservative country like India, where women’s rights are suppressed way too often, what do you do when a lecherous man won’t…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Latest


Indo-Canadian actress Sunny Leone: People write all sort of crazy stories about me

HINDUSTAN TIMES Actor Sunny Leone, recently hit headlines when she was quoted as saying that she doesn’t like being compared to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The…
Continue Reading »

Deepika Padukone

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone not interested in donning producer’s hat

HINDUSTAN TIMES While many of her contemporaries like Anushka Sharma and Ranbir Kapoor have entered the realm of film production, actor Deepika Padukone says that…
Continue Reading »

Kangana Ranaut

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut “had to learn triple jump for Tanu Weds Manu Returns”

HINDUSTAN TIMES We have seen actor Kangana Ranaut play a Delhi girl many times. Be it the flamboyant Tanu in Tanu weds Manu (2011) or…
Continue Reading »