I received a disturbing phone call early this morning from a friend of mine who is also a fellow lawyer about her ordeal last night. She had just narrowly escaped from being raped by two Indian men near the massive New Delhi train station where she is supposed to take the 10.25 pm train to Jodhpur for a weeklong holiday that will end at Agra follow up with another week of excursions to Himachal Pradesh province, where British Raj once hold court every summer.
Earlier this year, during our meeting in Singapore, she asked if I am interested to visit India in March/April, semi-backpacking style with train as the main public transport, taking advantage of the nice spring weather as Delhi and its surroundings can be a boiling cauldron during summer. Both of us are fervent travellers who shun tour groups.
I rejected it because March and April will be a two busy months with a few overseas assignment, besides that I’d had a plan to visit Thailand with Pooh. Determined, she will go alone despite reading about several rape cases that happened in India that gained international notoriety as well as pickpockets and other travelling hazards. To be fair, crime happened everywhere and we can’t just cite India.
As she was navigating her way to the terminal after getting off the iconic yellow and green three wheel taxi near New Delhi train station, she was dragged by two men into a dark corner despite throngs of passersby. I’m not going describe in details what happened after that but she was lucky to escape by the skin of her teeth. She then proceeded to lodge a police report to have the policeman telling her that rape is a common thing in India and it is often hard to caught and charge the culprit.
What, it is common? Yes, it is and UN’s Human Right’s Chief calls rape in India as a “national problem” as reported by The Economist. I’m suddenly reminded of the cover of Lonely Planet’s 8th edition of Myanmar published in 2002 with the print of “Should you go? See Inside for details” at the bottom and the conversation I had with friends back then about this tag. That was when Myanmar was still an international pariah, hermit kingdom without human rights and Daw Suu Kyi was still under house detention. Will “beware of rape” be the warning line about India being printed on the cover of the next edition of Lonely Planet and other travel publications?
From this incident, I’ll think twice and again before I travel alone in India. Ladies, no matter how gutsy you are, think twice too.