Travelling In Delhi Alone as a Woman

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Travelling Alone in Delhi as a Woman

A young woman died. Most of her intestines had to be removed before she died, because they had become gangrenous following her rape by a group of men on a bus in Delhi.

When I arrived in Delhi it was loud and busy and there were cows in the street and everyone was allowed on the road whether they were walking, driving an auto rickshaw, a taxi, an overloaded lorry, or a scooter. But I wasn’t scared of it. I made friends and we rode on the metro together.

(the lovely Candace Rardon with our friends on the metro)

When I saw that the metro had a women only carriage, I said to my friend, ‘isn’t that great!’

‘Is it?’ she asked.

‘Well yeah, there’s all this space and you don’t get bothered,’ I said.

‘Don’t you think it would be better to educate our men to behave correctly? she replied, ‘I mean, what next, separate roads? Where does it end?’

This was only a couple of weeks before the appalling gang rape and eventual murder of the 23 year-old medical student on a bus in the city.

The best article I’ve read in western papers following her death is the one below.

I met a Delhi-born journalist the Friday before it happened. At this point I was alone, and definitely felt too vulnerable to venture out at night (and while I love Delhi, it really is not like that in London, I don’t feel the need to get pre-paid cabs after dark).

‘Girl,’ she said, ‘you gotta get yourself one of these,’ and she pulled out a small bright pink can of pepper spray.

‘Where did you get that?’ I asked.

‘Oh, they sell them in all the chemists.’

And so the next day I went and bought one, for 300 rupees.

(I liked the woman with the sword).

But as much as much as it made me feel safer to carry pepper spray while alone in Delhi, and on the overnight train to Jaisalmer, the idea of having it with me in London makes me feel safer too. Even though it isn’t allowed. Because you know what, women get raped every day in London. And although London is safer, before I left for India, a friend of mine was assaulted in a near empty carriage on a train headed for London. And while the police were really good about it, other people were shockingly unsupportive, even asking if it was her fault. And a week after that, I was in a shop in North West London and overheard a woman talking about intervening when she saw a teenage girl alone with a group of boys being assaulted. Worse, when the person who intervened asked if she was okay, the teenager shrugged it off and looked embarrassed.

I don’t think you can compare rape statistics between India and the UK. Our police are different and the number or reported rapes don’t equate to the number of actual rapes. But I do think it is important the media everywhere talk about rape everywhere. Loudly.

The outrage the case has sparked in India is really important for India. There have been multiple protests as well as worldwide media coverage. Nationwide mourning. The five men and one juvenile who raped the 23-year-old will be in court Monday morning. Forensic evidence links them all to the victimA protest with a difference is scheduled for the end of this month. Krav Maga self defence classes every Sunday in January at 11am in Saket. And fingers crossed a turning point.

Sophie Collard on Google+