My near-rape experience in Delhi

21 Apr

The statistics caught up to me.  I suppose, after writing and talking offhandly about the higher chances of being raped in Delhi—warning others, but not taking the warning seriously myself–it was karma.  But the irony of my near-rape experience was how ordinary it was.  The setting was normal, the man involved quite amateur and non-malicious.  Perhaps he didn’t even intend rape.  I was both lucky and unlucky.

Here is the incident:  At sunset, I took an auto-rickshaw with an Indian male friend, who got out early to his destination. I then broke the driver-rider silence to direct the rickshaw driver to a shortcut.  This is where trouble started.  He was confused about the shortcut.  He started speaking Hindi to me, more and more, though it was obvious that I didn’t understand, and I laughingly spoke back to him in English.  It got completely dark (7:45 p.m., well ahead of 8:30 curfew) and we came upon a lampless backroad illuminated only by passing cars that I described in an earlier blog entry.  Still speaking Hindi animatedly and laughing, he hesitated on the road and then got out to pee.  I called a friend at that point, potentially saving myself.  For the rest of the 1-km path, he went slowly, hesitating more and more, speaking Hindi loudly and then stopped completely in the road, a lonely road with dark office buildings on the side and bushes on the other.   He then tried undoing the rope that held the curtains up on the autorickshaw, ignoring my pleas to go straight, and asking me for help, which I confusingly tried to acquiesce with.  The rope wouldn’t come undone.  He wouldn’t drive the auto. I moved to leave the rickshaw.  He started the motor again but stopped two seconds later.  It was a strange game we were playing.  He was still grinning.  Then he reached his hand toward mine, grabbing my arm and my thighs.  At that point I jumped out (thank goodness for cheap, no-door rickshaws) and started running.  I ran the rest of way home.

This story happened to a friend of mine, though in daylight and under more polite circumstances.  The rickshaw driver asked for her hand.  I am sure both of our drivers were trying to push their luck, probably gropists but not serial-killer rapists.  He could’ve chased after me.  The incident wasn’t scarring and I still want to obliterate the hostel’s 8:30 curfew (that did nothing to prevent this incident!), though I now give some credence to not trusting rickshaw drivers at night.  The truth is that in Delhi, as in anywhere, you can be raped in daylight.

Update:  In an earlier post, Living in 3 Slums, I mentioned that I live in one of the most dangerous areas of Delhi, formerly known as Murder Kunj.  I suppose that nickname still holds true, as a few days ago, a 20-year old student was stabbed to death a few blocks from my dormitory.  It was probably a targeted killing, as the victim’s belongings were left untouched, but most troubling was the incompetency of the guard on duty and the lack of police patrol on the street, which contributes to Vasant Kunj being so dangerous.  In fact, the day before the murder, there was a shootout in Vasant Kunj between a criminal hailing from another district and police who were tailing him.  Vasant Kunj, being so isolated, is now the place for people to commit crimes and get away with it.

I wish that TERI University would follow Yale’s cue and offer dogs for rent.  Except I need one not to prevent depression, but to prevent rapes.

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One Response to “My near-rape experience in Delhi”

  1. Vijay July 10, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    you should have lodged a complaint against that auto driver
    anyways its good to know that you are safe
    these kinds of things happens everywhere and it sure is bad
    after all this is a male chauvinistic world and it cant be changed easily

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