- Posted August 21, 2013 by
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Speaking up about sexual violence
My India -what I face as an Indian woman every day
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
I am an Indian woman. I have lived in this country my whole life. I went to college here and have used the public transportation in at least five of those cities. Ever since the world heard about Ms Rose Chasm's story, my friends and I have actively debated about India on social networking websites. Some of us were ashamed for India. Some were embarrassed. All of us were angry at those who tortured this poor woman. Our hearts went out to her and then our eyes scrolled down the comments section of the article.
I spent all night reading the 1,000 odd comments left behind by people. Some implored people to not visit India, especially women. Some apologised to Ms Chasm on behalf of Indians everywhere. It broke my heart. There was ignorance but also fear in what people wrote.
People were afraid of the country I called home my whole life. And I quietly rifled through my own experiences. Yes. Unfortunately I have been groped at and harassed by men. I am a runner and every time I set out to run by myself, I make sure I have my phone with me and pepper spray, in case men on the streets decide to harass the girl running in sweatpants (I never wear my shorts on solo runs).
But that's not what the country is all about. It's a big nation that should not be generalized. In any city you will find millions talking different languages, following different cultures. You simply cannot speak for all of them in one breath. It's not possible in India.
For every guy who has harassed me, I can think of lot more who have come to defense. A couple Sundays ago, two guys on a scooter decided to follow me on a couple laps as I went on a long run. I stopped to yell at them and quickly an auto driver and another man showed up to drive those men away. The country is a world unto itself and it has to experienced to understand why a billion odd people choose to call it home.
And then I was reminded of another story that has gone viral in the last few days - the shooting of Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane allegedly by three young American teenagers just because they were bored. With that incident came a spate of angry responses from people who urged tourists not to go to America because it's not safe. It's these kinds of generalizations that keep us afraid of the great unknown. I loved visiting America, when I had gone there on vacation recently. I enjoyed every part of it. Was it all ideal? No. I did somehow always end up on the group that was searched "randomly" in airports and one woman kept pestering me about Yoga even though I have never practiced it my whole life but I know that one person does not represent a nation and one experience should not define it. My heart goes out to Ms Rose Chasm. I hope she finds peace and light at the end of the tunnel. I also hope she visits India again. It's a beautiful country. And while you may not end spotting snake charmers and elephants walking on the streets, hopefully you can make some great friends.