It looks like the Indian student community is getting their chance to feel what it is like to be unfairly stereotyped due to the action of one person who wasn’t even Indian:
“To avoid suspicious eyes, I used to walk all the way to a classroom instead of riding a shuttle bus.”
So said a 24-year-old graduate student at Seoul National University who also heads the Indian students’ association there.
He said he has suffered from unfounded rumors over sexual harassment perpetrated by a foreign student.
The rumors began at the on-campus Internet bulletin board “SNU Life.” One female student posted a message Nov. 24 that she was sexually harassed by a foreign student who looked Indian on a shuttle bus.
A Dec. 1 post by an anonymous user said she witnessed a foreign student sexually harassing a female student and took a picture of the alleged culprit.
The bulletin board has since been bombarded with derogatory posts targeting students from India, saying things like “Indians look down upon fellow Asians” or “(Indian students) must be expelled.”
Controversy is thus brewing over xenophobia at the country’s top university. For their own safety, school authorities have recommended that Indian students avoid hanging around campus alone.
A probe by the university’s counseling center for victims of sexual harassment and abuse found that a Pakistani student at the engineering graduate school was the culprit. This is the first time for the university to investigate sexual harassment allegedly committed by a foreign student.
The counseling center said the Pakistani sexually harassed five female students. He told school officials that he inadvertently made mistakes due to Pakistani culture, which deems women inferior to men.
“The Indian students’ association felt deeply affronted by this incident,” said a university official. “On the day of the incident, the association launched a voluntary investigation to track the whereabouts of all Indian students and reported the results to school authorities.”
A 31-year-old Indian Ph.D student wrote on the Web that Indian students were greatly offended by responses from Korean students. “It’s wrong and hasty to lash out at all Indians on the comment that ‘He looked like an Indian,’ even though the investigation results have yet to come out,” he said.
“How would a Korean feel if he or she was wrongly blamed for a crime committed by a Chinese or Japanese abroad?” [Donga Ilbo]
The Pakistani student was wrong for harassing the female students and the differences in culture excuse is laughable and hopefully he is properly punished for what he did. Now the thing I am wondering is how often the female students at Seoul National University are sexually harassed by Korean students?
Or better yet, when the Korean professors at Seoul National University are busy sexually harassing their students? How worked up does the student body get when that happens?