A British woman left shaken after a man masturbates in public while watching her in India has been inundated with apologies and support.
Lucy Hemmings, 27, said Indian men and women sent her countless messages after reading her blog post about the incident to apologize.
âOn behalf of my compatriots, I would like to apologize for what happened,â wrote one man.
“It’s really disheartening to know that you had such an experience while you were in my countryâ¦ I pray that you will have a safer environment from now on.”
Another sympathetic Indian wrote that they felt “ashamed and sorry”, while another said: “One group of people out of a billion people shame all of India.
âSo I just thought about apologizing (on behalf of everyone in India). I know you’ve moved on … but I still believe a sorry one could make the difference.
Ms Hemmings, who traveled to India for three months and has since returned to the UK, recounted her experience on her travel blog Lucy’s Miles Away in March.
She was sitting at a bus stop in Mumbai when she noticed a man approaching her.
âOut of the corner of my eye, to my horror, I realized he had pulled out his penis and was masturbating, staring at me,â she wrote. “I got sick.”
Ms Hemmings wrote that while she respected Indian culture by completely covering herself in loose clothing and followed the safety advice regarding travel and driving with foreigners, it was not the first time that something similar had happened. produced.
On a previous visit to India in 2012, she and a friend saw another man masturbating while watching them from the bushes of an ashram. They laughed at him and moved on.
When it happened on her second time while she was waiting for a train, she alerted the other travelers and he disappeared.
But Ms Hemmings said the latest incident ‘felt different’ and affected her much more, making her nervous to walk alone and avoid eye contact with strangers.
She said The independent: âI found it really frustrating because I’m someone who really enjoys interacting with people and I really struggled because suddenly I was afraid to look at people.
“I kept thinking, ‘Is this going to happen every time?’
“Of course not, but for about three days I found it really difficult.”
After deciding that she would not allow the man and his “small penis” to affect her, Ms. Hemmings decided to write about the experience and discuss it with others, which she said. she was “cathartic”.
The former Bournemouth University student said she has no idea what impact her blog will have and hopes it will encourage other women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment around the world.
âIt could easily have elicited a very negative reaction, but it’s absolutely wonderful and so humbling that people write to me to say they’re sorry,â she said.
âThere are very few countries in the world where I can think of where this would happen.
“I would love to think that if this happened to an Indian visiting the UK we would do the same, but I’m not sure.”
The ordeal did not dampen Ms Hemmings’ love for India, which has come under heavy criticism for its record on women’s rights and sexual violence since the Delhi bus rape in 2012.
She said she hoped to visit the country several times, perhaps visiting some of the people who offered to show her around their hometowns after reading the blog.
“I know it’s a tiny minority who behave this way,” she added. “Good people and bad people certainly exist in every country, and India has an absolutely amazing amount of good people.”