Sunday, June 9, 2013

India: Update--Irish Aid Worker, 21, Raped by Businessman on June 1, Attempts Suicide

As a follow-up to my June 4 posting, an Irish aid worker, 21, who was allegedly raped by a local businessman on June 1 in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), reportedly attempted to take her own life yesterday with a mixture of sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs.

She was found to be unconscious in her hotel room by an Irish friend who stopped by to check on her. 

A spokesperson for the Calcutta Medical Research Institute told reporters that the medicine the young woman consumed have been pumped from her stomach. She is expected to make a full recovery.

COMMENT: As most of our regular readers know all too well, the threat of sexual assault is one that both residents and foreign women share. This threat is also one that all women should be cognizant of that should be a prompt to avoid being in vulnerable situations with men that they do not know well.

For a review of all of my postings relating to the sexual assault or rape of women in India, please go the postings page and type in "India."

For new readers, the young Irish aid worker in this case was feeling lonely on her 21st birthday, had met a young Indian businessman in the market and mutually agreed to celebrate her birthday together.

Unfortunately, after a night on the town, the man invited the Irishwoman to his home only to lace her tea with a likely "date-rape" drug that immobilized her while her new friend raped her. She subsequently filed a complaint and her assailant was arrested.

As a result of the large number of incidents of rape in India, all women should be cautious in their interaction with members of the opposite gender, as there may well be a cultural link to how Indian men in particular are socialized.

It should also be noted that only recently was India's criminal code updated to proscribe stiff prison penalties for offenders.

From an organizational standpoint, the organization that assigned the victim to Kolkata should have funded her return to Ireland after she was raped so that she could move on from the experience and have access to psychological services in a setting that she was familiar with. If anything, the aid organization should have taken such action as a matter of policy, knowing that some rape victims attempt suicide.

A survey by a trade body released earlier this year found that the number of foreign women tourists visiting India has dropped by 35% after a good number of foreign travelers have been assaulted and raped.

For the benefit of our readers, I am repeating the tips for women in India that I offered on June 4:

1. Have a healthy and suspicious nature when dealing with people you have never met before, or know only casually, particularly if you're a woman traveling alone. Note: This also applies to men;

2. Never meet new acquaintances in their home, particularly men, but only in public places until such time as their behavior and motives have been corroborated;

3. Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or restaurant;

4. Never drink to the excess unless you are with friends that you trust impeccably to come to your aid in an emergency;

5. Avoid being out alone, particularly late at night, as this is a time when predators are most active;

6. Always carry a mobile phone and input people you know and trust into the speed-dialer. This should also include your embassy or consulate, nearest hospital and local police; 

7. Acknowledge in your mind that sexual predators are commonplace in India and all nations; and

8. Do not place yourself in compromising situations unless your trust those you are with without reservation.