NIGHTMARE ABROAD

08.21.13

Facing Harassment Far From Home

One American student faced unrelenting sexual advances while studying in India, she says.

For University of Chicago student Michaela Cross, the beauty of India was voided by the near-constant sexual harassment she went through during a three-month study-abroad trip. As a South Asian studies major, even though she was aware of the culture she’d face, she says she was unprepared for just how much harassment she would endure. Her CNN iReport account, which is unconfirmed, has more than 900,000 views and 1,000 comments. In her report, she expresses her conflicted emotions: “Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?” She says she took a leave of absence from the school and was diagnosed with PTSD. It is a cautionary tale and a topic not typically broached when Americans plan to go abroad, which is why Cross says she shared this difficult and personal information.