Amelia had travelled from the UK to India hoping to learn about Indian culture and have an unforgettable experience. It is exactly what she got but not all of it is worth remembering.
“I was on my way to Agra from Delhi with other students who are part of the internship programme for UK students. I fell asleep in the bus and the others left me behind. When I woke up, the conductor was trying to kiss me! I have never been so scared in my life before,” said the 21-year-old student.
Dressed in a sari on Friday, Amelia was part of the 200-member student group that travelled from various parts of the UK to intern in Indian NGOs and other firms to understand the work culture and practices here.
The students were in Mumbai and Delhi for three weeks and had gathered at the British Council to discuss their experiences.
For most of the women who were part of the programme, Delhi was “disgusting and amazing at the same time”.
“It is beautiful, the people we interacted with were wonderful and we learnt a lot but being a woman, especially a foreigner, in this city. It is not a pleasant experience. Men would leer, comment and take our photos all the time. You could try screaming at them but they would not care. Mumbai was so much better,” said Jane Garcia Rodriguez, 20, another student.
Most, in fact, felt that Mumbai was much safer and woman-friendly.
“In Mumbai, I could go out alone and be on my own. In Delhi, however, I have to be accompanied by men wherever I go. It is very restrictive. I’m sure all the women who are part of the programme feel the same,” said Lauren Earle, another 20-year-old who was part of the internship programme.
Most students also felt that if they were ever to return they would prefer being in Mumbai than in Delhi.
“There is no denying that we had a wonderful time in India but the sexual harassment in Delhi has certainly been a downer. It is a big blot on an otherwise wonderful trip. Mumbai would be my first choice if I were ever to return to India,” said another student.