A study trip to India becomes sexual harassment trip

Michaela Cross, a 23 year old American student of “South Asian Studies” from the University of Chicago who travelled to India in 2012 to study has written a document called “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” on CNN’s ireport under the name “RoseChasm”. She describes how she was sexually harassed, groped, stalked, stared and masturbated at. It was so bad that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder upon her return to the United States. 

India for kids
India The Story You Never Wanted to Hear
The harassment story of Michaela Cross has been going viral on the internet with more than 1,042,067 views and 97K shares. From CNN

Michaela Cross writes that, “India is wonderful but extremely dangerous for women”.

She tells us various stories about harassment and groping. For instance; one where she was dancing in the city of Pune at the Ganesha festival. She realised that she was being photographed and being filmed by men. She tells us how men wanted to touch her at the bazaar while she was shopping for sarees. She talks about a man (a vendor) who followed her for forty minutes till she bought something. She mentions Goa where she was lying hunched in a foetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel tried to rape her room-mate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?

I can understand where she is coming from. There was a headline in India’s top news channel (Aaj Tak) called the “Sick Indian man”. What they showed was that, no matter where women go – Indian men will stare at women, try to touch them and given a chance rape them. The gang rape incident in Mumbai where a photo-journalist was gang-raped in the heart of Mumbai on the 22nd of August seems to confirm this fact. Nothing seems to have changed much in India since the Delhi gang-rape incident. The harsh reality is that women in India are not safe. This is how it feels to be a woman in India?

You can read the entire story of Michaela Cross and her personal account describing repeated sexual harassment “India: The Story You Never Wanted to Hear” on CNN.

Michaela Cross – sexual harassment in India

However, I personally know many foreign women in living in India and many foreign women who have travelled to India and nothing have happened to them. Some have talked about being stared and lewd remarks passed at them but that is standard in India. Women travelling to India should expect to be stared at.

What are your opinions on this story? She is being oversensitive? I understand that these incidents are true but can we really paint all Indian men with the same brush.

You might also wish to read

Advice to a female student travelling to India
White women should wear Kurtis for solo travelling in India?
Be careful of rape in India – tips for female travellers

77 thoughts on “A study trip to India becomes sexual harassment trip”

  1. Hi Shalu,

    Yes indeed, I read this news today though had seen it on CNN yesterday and that just shattered my heart…brought back bitter memories of the Delhi case…. and I said to myself…after Delhi, which was known for such crimes, even Mumbai isn’t safe any longer.

    It amazes me as to how people can fall to such levels and why are these men so brutal? I agree, not all men are bad and we can’t blame all of them for the act of one or few of them, but the point remains that Indian men are the one who did it, so it DOES bring shame upon Indians overall. Moreover, she was from a different country and here for a different reason.

    Even though she had been to India earlier and felt she knew the place well, but it’s certainly not what she’d expected. Not to mention all that she went through when she returned to her country ….. her core is what was injured and shattered beyond repairs.

    I guess it’s easy for you and me to sit here and talk about it. But the person who goes through it is the one who suffers the most, perhaps the scars remain lifelong.

    Yes, she should have been prepared as such cases are well known in India, but who is ever prepared for such incidents that can happen to you, me, or anyone else passing on the road? Are the Indian women safe? If not her, it could have been any other woman.

    It’s the men who need to be taught a HARD lesson time and not let loose like they were in the Delhi case – it just died it’s natural death, and so might this case because it’s something that happened a year back, though the point remains….it can happen yet again. Are we prepared to go through all the shame yet again? What actions are really being taken in this regard, I wonder. Till the thought process of men doesn’t change in this regard, I don’t think anything can happen really.

    Thanks for bringing up this sensitive issue, and I hope people wake up and realize that the change lies withing them.

    • Harleena

      This is the trouble with many foreigners visiting India. When you visit a country, you need to be prepared for it. I think this is exactly what has happened in this case. And this is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote my book.

      But Indian men are the real culprits. Staring, groping, touching, harassment, eve teasing is the order of the day.

      In the western world, men are much more courteous and they never stare at you. But in India, its the opposite. An ancient civilisation and many Indian men don’t know how to be civil.

      Shameless, sorry to say but that’s the fact.

  2. This story is nothing more than anti-India propaganda. Why convert a human tragedy into anti-India propaganda? USA is in deep shit with their economy and Obama is looking desperate and looking at ways to stop outsourcing. These Americans are jealous of India’s success story. So they create fake stories to make India look bad.

  3. It looks really terrible experience for women in India but I agree the experience of one individual should not represent the whole men in India.

    Shalu, you’ve related the incident of iReport and I was expecting your personal views and voice on the topic.

    • Suresh

      Exactly, millions of people both men and women visit India every year on various programmes. India happens to be one of the most visited countries in the world. But one bad incident is enough to tarnish the country.

      I did mention few of my thoughts in a sublime way but to be honest, I did not have any views. I think it’s a knee jerk reaction to something that happens but it is projected as if happens all the time and I don’t think its that bad. It’s a classic case of a few rotten apples in the basket.

  4. Firstly my sympathies goes to Michaela. Whatever happened to her was bad and we as a society should be ashamed. But there is something people are missing. Within few days after the article going viral, a lot of women posted their stories. The case of sexual harassment is a global phenomenon and we should not just be biased against Indian men. The article indeed gives the impression that only Indian men are dangerous.

    This one-sided opinion is harmful ti the image of India as a nation.

    • I disagree, Indian men are the worst in the world as they stare, grope, touch and whistle at you all the time. It’s in their genes. In the western world, crimes like this do not happen.

  5. Hi Mam,

    I’m feeling bad with our country which they have not taken serious action this cases recently many incidents been happen it’s disgusting Don’t know what the government decided on this cases no words to say

  6. The growth of foreign students in India is steadily increasing. Female travelers, even solo travelers come to India. I\’ve met many women who came to India alone and enjoy it thoroughly. Yes, i have also seen people around them looked at them, sometimes teased them. It\’s a huge populated country, and suddenly men have not become aggressive against women. It is a nature of men all over the world; men governed by sexual intensity towards women, and women are principally driven by emotion towards men. But the rising incidences of molestations, rape, acid attacks etc. are, as my personal opinion is because of lack of fear among culprits. Fear psychology works in case of extreme emotional rage, but loopholes in our system allow erase that psychology.Regarding this report, it\’s indeed shameful.

    • I do not think that its in the nature of men to be sexually aggressive. Indian society is to blame where boys are considered as prized possessions while women considered as burden. Its true that women travellers come and go alone in India and most of them go back as happy as they came.

  7. NOTE: First I want to say I feel for the victims of rape and assault. What they went through is beyond my comprehension. I am not condoning rapist or blaming victims. I am also not trying to say that victims of these crimes should not talk.
    I think every country on this earth has its share of sins. Rape is not a sin of modern world. It has been there forever. The most recent (media sensationalized) case in USA was a 40-50 y/o man kidnapped three girls (21, 17 and 15 approx. ages) and locked them up for 10 years. Where is the US government when all this happened? The girls were tortured, assaulted and raped not for a day, not for a month, not for a year but for 10 straight years. Where is the justice? The girls also became pregnant during this time and were cruelly beaten by the man to abort their babies. They also found remains of fetus in the backyard. BTW the court did not give him a death sentence immediately. Who know how many times he raped those girls in a period of 10 years. All he got for now is he is imprisoned and his bail was set for some huge sum (millions of dollars). Stuff like this is a normal occurrence in the west. Did we ever hear stories like this in India?
    It had been a trend again and again about how dangerous India is? The truth is world is a dangerous place. There are 14 registered sex offenders living within 1 mile radius of my house. My house is not even in a bad part of the town. We need to be careful when we go to a foreign place. I remember the last time I was in Texas, my friends told me not to come out of my room (hotel room) after 7PM. The hotel was in the downtown area and it was not safe.
    I really want to know the statistics on rape. How many women are assaulted per day in different countries? I sure it will be definitely be more than 2. Then why is that we are only talking about two. What about all other victims? Isn’t there pain worthy of discussion? Don’t they need some of our sympathy too? There are tourists that are murdered everywhere. These crimes are not exclusive to India. Indian community came together when these heinous crimes occurred, just like any other community would have. I agree there are some people that did the victim blaming, but which country has people that do not have an opposing opinion.
    The one question that bothers me is why such and anti-India campaign? The answer is I have no idea. I do not know what people are trying to prove with this. I agree we should talk about this and spread awareness. What I do not agree with is the negativity around India. If there are 10 bad people there are 10000 good people. There is good and bad everywhere and India is not unique and no, all men are not idiots.

    • Raina

      Thank you for your comment. But I am a little confused about a few things. Why do you think people would go after India and start an anti-India campaign? Just because a foreign woman reports sexual harassment in India, that does not mean that they are anti-India. Indian women face crimes like this all the time.

      As far as the crimes you mention in the US, it happens in Indian too but perhaps its not as reported as in the states. In India, sexual crimes is not reported most of the times hence the statistics are going to be skewed anyway. Here women are ashamed to go to the police or their relates to report such crimes because of fear of reprisal.

      I believe, the US gets its share of world media coverage when crimes like these happen hence we can’t really say its a anti-US campaign.

      I hope you are getting what I am saying? What do you say?

      • As I said before I have no idea either why people are doing anti-India campaign. The blogs I read have been attacking India for everything recently. Maybe that is the reason I feel that way. I have been seeing attacks on Indian culture, family values, Rakhi, tourist experience, women, discrimination and on and on. In the beginning it felt okay, but to see the same topics in each and every blog makes me feel like what is up? I do not live in India right now, but lived 25 years of my life there and can’t believe that India has become so bad in just 4 years. I went to school there and I might have been teased and commented. I never thought it was such a big deal. I tried to avoid the situations that put me at risk. Maybe I was also lucky.
        I am also not blaming Ms. Cross about talking about her experience. The only thing that bothers me is why label entire India for actions of few. There are sick people everywhere, but generalizing is hurtful. All Americans do not divorce, but saying America= divorce is wrong. I hope I am clear, rape is bad and I condemn rape and the criminals who committed the crime but do not think it is right to label whole nation.

        Like India many women in US do not report rape/ violence against them. So, that is not something that is unique to India. All I am trying to say is no country is devoid of sin. May be some places have more freedom and safety than others. All in all no matter where ever you are if you are not careful enough and lucky enough you are not safe. This not only applies to women but also men and children.
        Yes, you are right there is anti-US campaign too when things like this happen in US. I am not supporting that either.

        • Let me explain what I meant when I said eve-teasing is not a big deal. If we have a hand bag with lots of cash, we cannot leave it unattended and then freak out. It is our responsibility to keep our hand bag in our care. That does not mean I am saying that thief is not the bad one. I hope this did not sound as victim blaming.I am just saying we have to protect what is ours.

          Also I think for tourist it would help to follow the rule “When in India do as Indian’s do”. Not just dressing Indian, acting Indian is important. Do not respond to cat calls. Do not look men in the eye. If there are groups of men look past them as if the do not exist or put you head down and walk away. Never engage. If a seller is following you, stop, listen to what he is saying, then say you piece and walk away. If he still follows ignore and go about your work. He will eventually go away. It is difficult to change everyone but it is easy to bring the change with in us. That is where change should begin with in us.

          • Also may be if our movies do not portray a guy (hero) running behind a girl as romantic it will help. For example my boyfriend and I were watching DDLJ. I love the movie and SRK and thought he should watch. He is American,so was thinking he will learn a lesson or two about Indian culture, that is the easiest way to explain to him. Anyway we were watching the movie and he was disgusted at how Shah Rukh acted in the first half of the movie. I was kind of offended that he thought it was bad behavior. Then I saw what he was saying. In India what SRK did in first half is acceptable atleast for some. West has a very different view of dating. If a girl says no means no. They see it as there are plenty of fish in the pond. Maybe, if we stop showing that kind of behavior as heroic, there will be a decrease in the number of awara majnus teasing girls.
            BTW he liked the second half of the movie and appreciates Indian sentiment of respecting elders. At the same time he also thought that the SRK in the first half was a total 180 from the one in second half.

          • What about many American movies most of which are pretty crap anyway. All they show they saved the planet etc. You should have taken him to see another movie, an actor who is more seasoned and does not overact.

        • I can understand where you are coming from. I can understand your sense of patriotism to protect everything Indian even if its wrong. But its not so easy if you are living in India as you are already surrounded by sea of your own people. I understand that those living in the west try to cling on to everything that is Indian. If you love your country so much then perhaps you could move back to India. Its a lot easier to talk about India and patriotism from the comfort and security of your living room in the west.

          • I am sorry, but I do not understand how you just assumed that I am never going to return to India. You have no idea what my future plans are. It is just sad how people assume that who ever leaves the country is never going to return. I have moved thousands of miles away from my home and parents so, I can get advanced knowledge. Which I can use in India when I return. I made a sacrifice to leave my home. I am doing something for the country, more than you can understand. I am living a life of second grade citizen. It is not all rosy always like you assumed. You have no idea what all I had to go through here because I am alone without my families support. You also do not know if I cling to everything Indian or not. How is having an American (white) guy for a boyfriend even close to anything Indian? I really wish you could have been a bit less judgmental.

          • Why do you say that I am assuming? What I said was that its easy to speak from outside. When did I assume you are not going to return? Yes you are right, I have no idea what your plans are and how would I know what your plans are going to be.

          • “If you love your country so much then perhaps you could move back to India. Its a lot easier to talk about India and patriotism from the comfort and security of your living room in the west.”

            I am sorry may be I read too much into the first and second sentence together. My mistake. You are right you did not directly say that. I guess I just took the implied meaning. I think may be you just made a suggestion. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  8. Really its shameful for all of us, tourists are now calling our country “Rapistaan” instaed of Hindustaan. But no law can to anything if man should not learn or respect women from heart. Really disgusting !!! These wild peoples don’t know how to respect women’s of his own country, own home then how can we expect them that they would respect our guest………

  9. Well I have no words to say about the ‘Women condition in India”.
    I am a father of a daughter and my daughter is just 18 month old but believe me i don’t think she is safe anywhere except when me and my wife is around her.

    I really ashamed that I am not able to provide a society to my daughter where she can live without any fear and can do whatever she want to do.

  10. I’m very proud to read this, you know that describing a country with good and bad things is very appreciated.

    Without hidding stuff those India visitors will be more carefull. Thanks for sharing this Shalu.

  11. Hello Shalu Mam

    I recently watched the news on Youtube and the ireport from that lady went viral.situation is India is really bad. People are sometimes really creepy and mean. It needs to be change. Shameful

  12. i know the feeling shalu because our country is also experiencing shameful feedbacks. one good example is our law enforcements failure to address hostage taking effectively in the quirino grandstand (three years ago). it even reached to the point that we are painted in the same brush and our fellow men experience prejudice in other countries.

  13. Hi Shalu,

    Very shocking post! Its like floodgates have opened and all the skeletons are falling out. These types of stories scare me a lot but sadly can’t escape them not while living in India. Stalking is like a favorite pass-time for almost all Indian boys and men alike. They don’t do it to foreigners only, but treat Indian women the same way almost every day. Dare walk away without buying something from them and get ready to be bombarded with assortment of abuses.

    I know I’m generalizing but sadly it’s a grim reality. Even the ones who claim to be “not that kind of men” are some way infected with this virus of demeaning women whenever possible in however subtle manner. It’s all about how well you know the guy for him to show his true colors (that are usually soaking in sick patriarchy and misogynist mentality). And then they say they respect women. Also, most parents have ‘dos and don’ts list’ for daughters but same is never applied on their precious sons, who can say and do whatever they please. When girls are taught from the young age to behave properly then guys should be taught to behave and respect females as human beings too.

    I believe, to actually know how much women suffer due to such acts, you got to be a woman because men love to say in defense “not all are alike.” If that’s true then why those good men never step up even when they witness some helpless female being harassed?

    • Priyanka
      I could not agree with you more. The society has different rules for men and women. Boys are not taught to respect women and they end up growing up thinking that women are objects to played with.

  14. Everyone says …. we should have strong laws against this activity I agree. But strong laws can’t change psychology of sickness I think we should change the mentality …how?… i don’t know… it may be via education. or other mental programs….or other way.
    Shalu, Do you have any idea to prevent such embarrassing activity from our society?

  15. Hello Mam,
    Ya its really shameful the things,which are happening in India , such things will disappoint foreign visitors & to pin up them to think before coming to India.

  16. I would like to believe that we were a better and more cultured nation in the past than what we are now. I dont know what and who to attribute such bad behavior to.

    We have such a beautiful country. The rupee is at an all time low and yet I believe we will not be able to attract visitors to our country.

  17. Women in India are not safe (whether she is a foreigner or an Indian)..We get to hear news on women being assaulted (physically as well as se**ally) every alternate day .. Its a shame that our government isn’t doing enough for the safety of women .


  18. I do agree with this post Shalu! Sexual harassment has become a common matter in India. No one is stopping it & i just very cheap for India.

  19. It’s high time now….I think we need to change our mentality first….why are we afraid to talk our love affairs with our elders? Why our elders always restrict us from exploring new things…??? Its true that Women in India aren’t safe any more, and that needs to change at any cost…..

  20. I am sorry to hear about her experience, but you definitely can not paint all Indian men with the same brush. I know of many very gentlemanly Indian men.

  21. I’ve heard a lot of good things about India and it’s well-known fact that it is one of the most visited countries in the world. It’s really shameful to hear that Indian men treat women that way in your country. My country is not perfect but I am proud to say that here in the Philippines, men are known to be generally respectful of women. Boys are taught at their early age to treat the opposite sex with kindness and respect — the same that they would accord to their own sisters and mothers.

  22. I’ve heard a lot of good things about India and it’s sad to be reading news like this when women, like me, have to feel unsafe around Indian men. I know that we cannot generalize and I believe there are still good and honourable men in this country. I simply wish the laws are more strict and consistent in its implementation of justice against abusive men.

  23. Poor girl. I’ve experienced Eve teasing there, but it hasn’t turned me off India. Hope she will realize someday that there’s more to India than sexual harassment.

  24. This has been a shame for India, since quite some time. But this is not the story with everyone and everywhere. Some sick people are doing this for their madness creating this sense of insecurity for visitors and even for the native citizens.

  25. Hi Miss Shalu,thanks for this article.first of all Im sorry because Im not that good in english but I just want to share you my experiences with indians.Im not indian but I had many bad experiences with indian boys.I have many indian friends on fb(they sent me friend request btw)they always want to talk about dirty things and sex.they always say bad words not just to me..to my parents too using hindi and some used english too but most of them used hindi to say bad words to me(I blocked them anyway)I was really shocked about their attitudes but I said to myself that everyone is not the same.theres good and bad in the world.I didnt wanna be racist..so I still accept friend request from indian people.I was hoping that I will meet some good indian boys because I wanted to change what I think about them…and yeah finally I did meet some good and innocent indian boys..one of them agreed that indian boys say bad words using hindi because they are having fun doing that.and he said that some indian boys are just really cheap.one of the other became my best friend is really nice..he told me not to go to India because its not safe(I told him I wanna go to India alone thats why he said its not safe)that made me happy because he said truth that its not safe for a girl to go to India alone..he was concerned about me..Ive always liked indian people.there are many indians in my country..they are beautiful people..I mean their looks because I never talked with an indian in person..but there was those times when it just got too much..there was those times when I got really angry on indian boys..even my old indian best friend called me a slut but I never uploaded pics of me wearing short shorts or reavealing clothes(Im actually conservative)I know people who wear short shorts or revealing clothes are not not slut too but apparently for many indians..they are!even my indian friend told me that in India..if u talk or be friends with boys..they see u as characterless and a b*tch.actually Miss Shalu,Im in love with an indian boy and he is truly amazing!but his friends hates me and even called me a call girl,b*tch,dirty girl and wanted to talk about sex also..it really hurts but cant do anything…I also watched..India:A dangerous place to be a woman bbc documentary..I cried soo much after watching that and even think about my future helf indian daughters(my lover and I already talked about marriage)I also thanked God I was born in a country where theres equality of men and women(actually women get special treatment here)and after I watched that I really became more scared of indian boys.(BTW,I just read an article recently”Why Phone Cameras are the Bane of Modern India”maybe you guys wanna read it. )after I watched the documentary…I realized that its really true that Indian men really has more rights and importance in India.Ive always knew this because of stories of experiences of other people with indians..and because of campaign equality for women in India.Due to my so many bad experiences with indian boys..I dont hate them but my bad experiences gave me a bad image of them…but pls dont blame me or anythin because this happens normally to people..As I said I dont hate indians so even though I had many bad experiences with indian boys..I still love to visit India someday(Its such a beautiful country)and I really wish I will not have bad experience there(I heard many horror stories of foreign women who visited India)So I just said my experiences with indian boys..I wish I will not offend anyone(I dont intend to offend anyone..I just wanna share my experiences)Im really sorry for my bad english…and as I said I love India!Mujhe Bhaarat bahut pasand hai! 🙂 maybe not just indian boys lol!

  26. I guess there should be more strict rules in India especially when it comes to issues with women. Thanks for your sharing command

  27. Hi Shalu, I had not heard or read this story. This news can really affect tourism and hinder many students who go to study in India. It is actually ruining India reputation. ~ Anetta

  28. Hi Shalu,

    Whenever I read such news, the only thing that comes my mind is, we’re doing bad for ourselves. These kind of actions will lead to harm tourism in India. There are thousands of people in India who earn money because of the tourism industry and these actions directly hit there pockets.


  29. In the situation of harassment in the workplace, you should know that the law is on your side, and it is in your best interest to contact a Sexual Harassment Lawyer. What this means is that if anyone harasses you physically and verbally then you have the right to sue the place of employment.

  30. American male here.

    I have seen and dealt with Indian males coming into online chat rooms. In fact they are a major reason why Yahoo shut their chat rooms down.

    I have been accosted by many who refused to believe I was a male (and if I had a webcam then, they would’ve found that out). One said I was a “hard-headed woman” and that I needed to learn to “respect and obey males.” This was because I told the guy I was busy chatting with somebody else (and yes..he refused to believe I was a male).

    They seem to have the idea that you are supposed to drop what you are doing and chat with them. Blocking them was futile; they had duplicate accounts.

    They start up with sex chat within a minute of contacting a female and marriage is proposed soon afterwards (5-10 minutes). One of my female friends told me that this one guy said “but surely u will develop love for me after we chat!!!” I started messaging the guy, pretending to be her husband, telling him in no uncertain terms to fuck off and leave her alone. His response was to tell me that he was going to come to the US, take my “wife ” from me and he was going to fuck my sister as well (I don’t have a sister).

    After dealing with these online perverts, I can see what they are when they see Western females in the flesh.

    I wonder how many times they have come here and tried that and got arrested instead.


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