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I'm based at a university with students from all over India, from every cultural, socioeconomic and religious background, which means we have many different assumptions about gender, sexuality and consent. But it also makes every new friendship and conversation an incredible chance to learn from and love people I would never have met. The man who drove me drunk, too fast, on his motorcycle, who wouldn't stop even as I pleaded.

Yet gender violence is global - a problem in New York as well as New Delhi - and much American reporting about rape in India lacks context, relies on racist stereotypes about Indian men and ignores the fact that Indian feminists have been fighting gender-based violence for centuries.

I'm back in Delhi as a graduate student, and I'm once against searching for romance.

These experiences of gender-based violence are familiar - I experienced similar incidents on my American college campus - and also further complicated by differences in language and culture. Powerful, brilliant women and loving, feminist men.


We spent hours talking in the warm kitchen, a cigarette dangling from my girlfriend's lips as she cooked.My budding relationship with her and our new friends were sources of joy and support as I navigated being a bisexual woman in an unfamiliar culture. As a college student abroad in India, I was told multiple times - even in official program handbooks - not to "date the locals."This deeply condescending advice was based on American stereotypes about gender-based violence and Indian men.


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