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Michaela Cross, a Chicago University student, back from a study trip to India, calls the experience, half dream, half nightmare. Cross opens up that while it was a visit full of adventures and good experiences, she was sexually harassed all the time. In a soul stirring account posted on CNN iReport, under the user name RoseChasm, Cross details the trauma she went through while she was in India.
India: the Story You Never Wanted to Hear, Cross's story details the distressing fact about the level of safety for women in India. "Walking to the fruit seller's or the tailor's I got stares so sharp that they sliced away bits of me piece by piece. I was prepared for my actions to be taken as sex signals; I was not prepared to understand that there were no sex signals, only women's bodies to be taken, or hidden away," Cross writes.
She shares a traumatic account of her in a hotel in Goa.
"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," Cross wrote.
She states that for three months she lived in a traveller's heaven and a woman's hell. Cross recalls that she was groped, stalked, masturbated at yet she also had adventures that were beyond her imagination.
Her story has received reactions from across the world with more than 9,55,401 views as of Thursday, 22 August, 2013. Several reactions came in from India.
"It thoroughly disgusts me to be known as an Indian male ... An apology is extremely meager for all the trauma you've gone through," Arvind Rao a media professional in Mumbai commented on her story.
"On behalf of Indians and India, I apologize for what you went through. After reading your account I am truly ashamed and terribly disappointed in the people of my country who would behave in such manner and feel really sorry that you had to go through this," another reader commented.
Cross has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and is now on a mental leave of absence from the school after a public breakdown in the spring.
India has been continuously witnessing several high profile cases of rape and continued violence against women. The horrific gang rape in the capital, New Delhi, of a 23-year old woman in December, stirred up the nation and the government has stepped up its measures for the protection of women.
Following Cross's story, the University of Chicago also issued a statement reiterating the safety measures they take while they send their students abroad.
"Both faculty and staff in Chicago and our local Indian staff counsel students before and during the trip about precautions they need to take in a place like India. Ensuring student safety and well-being is the top priority of both the College and staff and faculty associated with the program. Every year about 25 students enroll in it and several have gone on to become India-specialists by doing PhDs on the country and its past and present. This is the first time that I personally have come across such a serious problem," Dipesh Chakrabarty, a University of Chicago professor who was in India for the first three weeks of the session said in an e-mail.