A further comment o the blog by its author to clarify background and intentions:

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: H-ASIA: Resource for female students traveling to South Asia II
Date: 2013-05-01 13:41
From: Frank Conlon <conlon@U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Reply-To: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>


May 1, 2013

Further comment re: Resource for female students travelling to South 

(x-post RISA-L)
Ed. note: This is a continuation to the discussion on April 29 
introducing a new blog resource on issues facing female students 
travelling to South Asia. (http://travelingwhilefemale.blogspot.com/)
From: Erin H. Epperson <eheppe@uchicago.edu>

I want to thank everyone for their support of this project. I feel obliged
to add that this is a very difficult topic for most women (myself included)
to discuss because of the vulnerability involved in harassment experiences.
I would like for one to see more support of women who have these
experiences and less victim-blaming (i.e. "she should have worn this
instead"). Most female colleagues I have talked with are not comfortable
sharing their experiences, so this my attempt at a much-needed first step.

I certainly agree based on personal experience that the most modest
clothing is safest, and that traveling in groups and only during the day is
safest. But I believe it is a disservice to teach our students that any
preventative measure is fool-proof, and in fact statistics show that what a
victim wears in fact matters very little. Harassers, like rapists, report
that the number-one factor in choosing a victim is not their clothing or
appearance, but opportunity and perceived vulnerability. We teach this at
the Self defense center I volunteer for, and from what I've read and had
reported to me from Indian women, the same holds true in India. You can
just as easily be harassed wearing a burka as jeans. For foreigners I would
certainly recommend local dress (add I myself choose to wear), but I would
also want to emphasize that nothing is completely preventative and any
harassment they may receive is not their fault.

I also want to address concerns that my blog might be white-centric or
foreigner-centric. Some context might help. When I started to write I was
attempting to process through what I (mis)perceived to be a mostly
foreigner problem. As I began to write and began discussing this work with
Indian women, I began to take a wider perspective. Thus as the entries
progress, I hope the progression of my understanding of the situation is
visible. I have recently returned to the US and have been wrapped up in
other academic duties, but I have several entries in mind to write and post
over the coming weeks and months (in part based on conversations I had with
women in Delhi during a self defense course I helped teach back in March)
that will continue to reflect this shift.

I would also like to apologize if my blog comes across as inflammatory or
fear-mongering. I certainly don't want to scare women away from India
(which is why I wrote the most recent entry). But I also don't see how
minimizing the issue will help women. Without serious discussion, women
will continue to suffer in silence. Like with most important issues, waves
have to be made initially before we can eventually reach a sort of balanced
equilibrium on the topic. I should perhaps also add that street harassment
is a global phenomena and is certainly present in the US in cities and
towns, large and small so thus problem is not limited to South Asia. As a
white foreigner there are limitations based on both my foreign-ness and my
(white) privilege, which I want to acknowledge.

I whole-heartedly welcome any suggestions for how I can advance the
discussion through this blog. Any suggestions for future entries or advice
for tone would be appreciated (by private correspondence)

Erin Epperson
PhD Candidate, SALC
University of Chicago
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Ute Hüsken
Professor of Sanskrit
Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages
University of Oslo
Faculty of Humanities
P.O. Box 1010 Blindern
N-0315 Oslo

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phone: +47 22 85 48 16
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Co-editor, Oxford Ritual Studies Series (http://ritualstudies.com/oxford-ritual-studies-series/)
Head of the "Kanchipuram Research Project" (http://www.hf.uio.no/ikos/english/research/projects/kancipuram/index.html)
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Member of the International Beirat of Paragrana. The International Review of Historical Anthropology