A Japanese tourist who was seen in a viral video being molested by an unruly mob of men and boys on a street in New Delhi has said she holds no grudges over what happened to her, and that she still loves “everything about India”.
“I have been there many times on holiday, and it is a country brimming with charms,” the 22-year-old woman, identified in her social media accounts as Megumiko, said in a Twitter post.
She said India is a wonderful country, and that she cannot bring herself to hate it, despite her recent experience there.
“India and Japan will forever be ‘tomodachi’ (friends),” she said.
Megumiko, a spa manager from Osaka, said she was more traumatised by reactions to the incident than by what actually happened to her.
In the 24-second video, a rowdy group of men and boys can be seen dousing her with coloured water and powder on a street in Delhi’s Paharganj area last Wednesday as they shouted, “Happy Holi”, as is tradition during the Hindu festival of Holi.
But they were also groping her, touching her chest, and pushing her around, even as she tried to flee from them, telling them repeatedly, “itai, itai”, which is Japanese for “it hurts”.
A boy smashed an egg on her head.
She slapped a man who tried to grab her chest, and then quickly ran to an alley.
Megumiko said she was terrified after seeing that her tweet with the video was being retweeted and shared privately “beyond my imagination”.
“While it may be the opinion of a few people, I am not used to being criticised or threatened, and this became psychologically unbearable,” she said.
Megumiko said she was, for now, pausing all her social media accounts.
She said she was sorry that the video seemed to have put Holi and India under harsh scrutiny.
Holi is celebrated in India to mark the beginning of spring after a long winter.
In the streets, the celebrations are often marked by ribald language and behaviour as it’s typically regarded as an “anything goes” holiday.
Megumiko said she knew the risks she was taking when she set out on that day, as all of India was celebrating Holi.
“I had heard it was very dangerous for a woman to go out alone during the daytime at the Holi festival,” she said.
She said she went out with 35 friends, thinking there was safety in numbers.
“Unfortunately, this kind of situation happened,” she added.
Megumiko said she was taking responsibility for the decisions she made that day.
She said she knew she and her friends were going to “one of the most unsafe places in India”.
But she also acknowledged that she went there willingly. “I participated in the festival,” she added.
She said she hopes people would understand that she “was not trying to convey the abnormalities and damages of the Holi festival”.
“I sincerely apologise for causing concern to many people through the videos and on Twitter. My original intent was to convey the positive and fun sides of India. But, in the end, I instead caused a lot of concern and anxiety in many ways, for which I apologise,” she added.
Still, she said she appreciated police efforts to check excesses that lead to violence during Holi, especially those targeting women.
“I anticipate that starting from next year’s Holi festival, harassment against women will decrease significantly.”
- With additional reports from Walter Sim in Tokyo