In an incident that shows how unfair it is to brand an entire country for the acts of a few, a young Danish woman who was molested on a Lucknow bus has said her horrific experience would not change her image of India and Indians.
Unlike many Indians who now tend to call Australia a “racist” country after 14 violent attacks on students, Ida Loch Hansen (28) — despite getting no help from passengers or the bus staff when she was being molested — does not claim all foreigners are unsafe in India. “The incident has not changed the good image of Indians but it was certainly traumatising,” she said.
Hansen thought she was lucky when she boarded a bus at Lucknow’s Hazratganj crossing on Tuesday and found a seat next to the driver’s cabin.
Within seconds, a man about her age sat next to her, and almost immediately attempted to slip his hand under her thigh.
“Take your hand off and sit somewhere else,” she protested loudly.
The man asked her to shut up. “You’ll be killed if you utter another word,” he said bluntly.
Over three-dozen passengers watched the man grope Hansen over the next few minutes while she resisted. No one helped. The driver did not stop the bus and the conductor watched as the man went on groping Hansen publicly.
Terrified by now, Hansen started screaming for help, desperately appealing to other motorists from the bus window.
“Help, police, please help me. I screamed, but to no avail,” recalled Hansen.
Finally, realising her shouting was drawing attention, the conductor asked the molester to move to the back of the bus.
The man moved away, but not before threatening Hansen to keep quiet about the incident.
Hansen immediately got off the bus and took an autorickshaw home.
“Those few minutes were like hell for me,” said Hansen.
A student of social science in Copenhagen, Hansen is on a three-week study tour of India. She is associated with an NGO (name withheld on her request) and has extensively travelled across north India to study maternal health.
She is full of sympathy for women in India.
“I wonder what Indian women must face every day,” she said.