I knew sexual harassment and rape was an issue for women in India, but I never knew it was for men too until I experienced it myself.
Sexual harassment is a crime that is not exclusive to women, men are the victims too. It’s time we started treating it that way. Men are extremely reluctant to report it because we fear we won’t be believed, understood, or supported. I know that’s how I always felt.
Guys, it can happen to you too.
My Stories of Harassment
Sydney, Australia: The first time it happened to me wasn’t in India. I was in Sydney for work. I went to use the toilet at a nice restaurant on the harbour. While I stood there peeing in a urinal, a man came up behind me and started hugging me from behind while I was peeing. I pushed back to get him off me and began yelling at him and he quickly backed down and left. I shrugged it off, “What are the Police going to do? Laugh at me probably.”
New Delhi, India: A young guy came up to me and asked for a selfie with me. As his friend took the photo, the guy turned his head and tried to kiss me. I quickly pulled away and he didn’t connect, thank god. They walked off laughing.
Vrindavan, India: I was walking along a quiet dirt road to visit the famous Krishna temple in this holy city when an old man stopped his bicycle next to me. He began talking to me in Hindi and asking me run of the mill questions like “Where are you from? Do you have brothers and sisters? Are you married?” I was happy to chat for a minute and practice my Hindi, until he started repeating the word lollipop and hitting me twice in the penis. The first time I was shocked, the second time I began yelling at him and got away from him.
Somewhere in Gujarat, India: I was waiting at a bus station. I could feel someone was watching me. Whenever I’d turn around, there was this tall man staring at me. It was creepy. He kept moving closer and closer to me. I kept moving away. I went to the bathroom at the station and this guy followed me. There was plenty of urinals to use in the large bathroom, but he chose to stand next to me and watch me pee!
How to Avoid Sexual Harassment
In two of those situations, it was impossible to avoid, they harassed me. In the other two, I could have avoided it by not being so friendly, by not agreeing to take the selfie and by not stopping to talk to an old man. But that’s not how I want to live life because 99% of people are well meaning and genuine.
My top two tips from my India Survival Guide (Quick-Start Safety Guide) to help mitigate harassment are if you are touched inappropriately you need to make a scene immediately so others around you see what’s going on and come to your aid. Secondly, don’t be overly friendly with men as they quickly get the wrong idea in India, it pays to keep a balance between friendly and guarded with people you meet.