This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Molested, Offended And Provoked: No Country For Outlanders

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Vaishali Jain:

It was seven years back, when I had come to Delhi, that I first came to know about the ‘time-pass’ many people here did. I had not experienced any incident of bullying, nor had I seen anyone experience it in my town.

Delhi was different. People here welcomed the meek and the humble with smirks and winks- if it was a girl, then whistles and comments and what-not. Be in a group, and you’re kind-of safe. Be alone, and you’re doomed…or at least you’re bound to feel apprehensive of some dark clouds lingering over your head till you’re home. This was the day-time scenario. What went on in the dark alleys of the nights can be guessed.

And the situation can well be imagined where the victim does not know the language, culture, habits, norms and rules- Foreigners. They come to India with high hopes — as students, professionals, researchers and tourists. We welcome them. But they are welcomed by the offenders, too. In buses, on roads, in gardens, at metro stations, in street shops, there have been incidents where they get molested, offended, and provoked.pic1

And the people just watch.

As an Indian, I feel ashamed. The ruffians taint the picture of Incredible India everyday. And what do we do? We assure the guests of our country that we’ll welcome them and click pictures with them and adore them like they are some sacred charms but if they’re in trouble, then we are sorry;  helping is not in our blood.

I have come across many incidents of shamelessness against foreigners in the past seven years. Cases abound. They are not a result of some grudge or morbid scheme. This is all in the name of fun. Fun? How is belittling someone, fun? How is making someone feel ostracized, fun? Maybe the visitors who tour the country and leave, might board the flight back with some happy and some bad memories but for the ones who have permanently settled here or are here for a long duration, this is serious. It’s agonizing. It’s shameful. It’s unfair.

Of the many incidents I talk about, there are three that are etched deeply in my mind.

Connaught Place: Foreigners love this vibrant spot of Delhi. I distinctly remember, a blonde woman was searching her way in the Middle Circle with a map in her hand. She politely asked a group of boys the route to some place. She was harassed.

Did I see a how-dare-she-roam-alone-in-a-strange-land look in the eyes of the people present? I can’t say.

Janpath: The mecca for shoppers. Two young foreign men — students maybe — were being brazenly asked for almost triple the money of their actual auto fares. People looked at the two men, at the autowallah, at each other and then went on with their own works.

The typical ‘Roz ki baat hai’ attitude, maybe?

Janak Puri: The third was at this important hub of West Delhi. A young black guy was being attacked because he was seen as an easy prey to some nonsensical fun. Ridiculous; how stupid and shameless can one be? What calls for this behaviour?

All the three incidents were downright disgusting.

The connection here is not just the incidents; the connection is the attitude of the spectators. Mute spectators. No one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, came to the victims’ rescue. I guess, they all thought it will get resolved or maybe someone else will speak up or maybe they just didn’t care.

When I was a witness of the first two incidents, I was one amongst the silent watchers. New to the city, afraid of the repercussions. Blah, blah! The third incident, however, didn’t let me keep quiet. I spoke up. Following suit, many did. The rogue, despite his ego, apologized for what he did. The foreigner was thankful to the people. He smiled and relaxed. Maybe he didn’t feel at home, but I’m sure he didn’t feel alone either.

I’m not saying that each and every Indian is selfish or a coward. But there are a few who defy humanity. And the others, as responsible citizens, can always support the right thing; Always. An ‘if’ and a ‘but’ are mere excuses.

As for me, I now know — it’s not about how much one wants to help, it’s about helping anyway. I have lived with the regret of not helping AND I have lived with the joy of inspiring others to help. The memories of both are unforgettable. That just says, I can choose the memories for myself.

To all the foreigners who have been to India and have been left with a bad memory of this country, I apologise. As an Indian, yes, but more so, as a human, I apologise. I hope your faith in goodness doesn’t falter and I hope you don’t group us as a nation of scallywags.

Because, as far as my experience goes…

If there is a 30% chance that you’ll come across people who will take advantage of your language barrier, who will not respect your culture, who will be unaware of your mannerisms, then there is a 70% chance that you’ll meet people who will talk to you like a curious ol’ head, guide you like a friend and treat you like a family. And you know how big Indian families are, right? So are their hearts.

You must be to comment.
  1. Eeshita

    awsome articulation!! keep it up!! 🙂

  2. Leona

    I enjoyed your article, and sadly, I think a lot is true for everywhere. People just don’t want to get involved anymore.

  3. Dia

    India is not the safe place it hopes to be. The beauty and history of the country is severely tainted by the arrogance and abuse from a lot of the populace. This article is proof that there are Indians who are aware of the problem and are willing to try and change the perception foreigners have.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Amrit Mahapatra

By Amrit Mahapatra

By Amrit Mahapatra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below