Why you should think twice before cheering for the Rio Olympics – 7 Aug 16

So the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil have started. A huge sport event each time, wherever on the world it takes place and people show their excitement by waving flags, posting on social media and of course watching TV to see how well their country’s athletes perform. Whenever I see such a batch on facebook however, I wonder whether the person posting knows at all what has been going on there before the start. I doubt it – otherwise there would be at least mixed feelings and not this enthusiasm that is for sure!

Obviously, a country applies for becoming host of the Olympics because they get a certain amount of benefits. The biggest of these is that a lot of tourists coming to the country bring business to the country. Another one is that infrastructure is improved for the games – and of course exists for the people of the country after the games, too! Towns are cleaned and made beautiful and some more bigger and smaller advantages compared to regular life.

In Brazil, things went a big different. One reason for this may be the big amount of corruption in that country which, similarly to India, blocks some very good initiatives and spoils the effect.

There were, for example, plans to clean the waters where boating and swimming competition will take place – because they were full of sewage water when the plans of the Olympics in Rio started. Unfortunately however pictures, reports and water tests today show that nothing much happened. Athletes are advised not to open their mouth to avoid diseases – ugh!

Coming to the point of infrastructure, you can see from the mere fact that stadiums were not ready until two days before the opening that things didn’t really go as planned in regards to infrastructure either! Cycle tracks had been built and broken down, transportation systems had not been extended as planned and more. Additionally there have been reports of workers being kept at slavery-like conditions!

Everyone going to Rio for the Olympics faces another issue which is not of small importance: life is not secure at all! There are already reports of athletes and visitors getting robbed at gunpoint – not something you would like to experience when going to this kind of event, is it?

It is no wonder that the people of the country itself are protesting! Protesting against the government and the games. Against corruption, neglect and everything that causes problems in their daily life. Because while the Olympic Games will be in town for a bit more than two weeks and Rio will do its best to shine, they will stay living with all these dangers and disadvantages which athletes and tourists will only keep as a negative memory! People work long hours for getting nothing in return, slums are growing with crime spreading like wildfire, children have little to no chance for education, malnutrition is too common and child labour normal for those families who simply need the money for survival! Corruption and violence come from police and government alike, making people disillusioned about any help they could get. It is a dire situation.

We cannot close our eyes to all of these facts and just see the glitter and glamour that the hosts and organizers want us to see! We have to see the whole picture and realize that at least there is one benefit: this event shows us what is happening in Brazil and that things are not all rosy there at all! If we want to support our athletes and enjoy the games, we should also see the background of the venue and the situation of people there. If there is any way we can help, we should. And be it just by telling people about the situation and raising awareness in this way.

You cannot exclude Religion when speaking about Terrorism – 26 Jul 16

After writing yesterday’s blog post about terrorism, I had the feeling that there is one aspect which didn’t quite fit in with yesterday’s message but at the same time is important to the reason why these attacks happen at all: it is religious terrorism! Again and again it is Islamic terrorists, suicide bombers, attackers that kill dozens, hundreds and thousands of people! You cannot pretend as though religion didn’t play a role in this!

Islam is very clearly the religion that these criminals follow and it is teachings of this religion that give them the idea of such cruel actions in the first place. It is not only a disturbed or depressed mind in anger on himself and the world but it is a systematic infiltration of minds that leads to humans committing such crimes! There is an intention of people who use religion as a reason for killing and murder!

When I hear politicians talking about this aspect of attacks however, they often try to avoid the core of the issue. They claim this is not Islam, the religion, at fault and they blame people who change the message of an otherwise ‘peaceful religion’. I don’t agree with this. I don’t think Islam is peaceful.

Once more we have come to the topic of religion and I tell you again that in my opinion, everyone should have the full freedom to believe whatever he or she wants as long as no other people are affected, insulted or injured. At the same time however we clearly see that religions in general and Islam in particular do affect others!

You cannot close your eyes in front of the fact that there are believers of religions promoting hate and spreading fear. In the name of gods that they claim to be just and fair! How come you can still believe in a god that would allow, yes, ask for such crimes? You cannot just wave it off and say ‘that is not really god’ because these people look at the same scriptures and teachings!

I believe to really stop such horrible acts, we have to go against religion and every teaching of it that promotes violence. If you sit down and pick apart the messages of different religions, you will find that a lot of them contain lots of violence. In today’s world, we don’t need this. Stop spreading outdated messages or anger and pain. Open your arms to others of all colour, background, caste and religion – only like this we can improve the situation in this world!

Don’t let Terrorists get what they want! – 25 Jul 16

Today I want to write to you about recent events in Europe. In my second home, to be exact: in Germany. I am sure you have heard about the terroristic attack in Munich – and you can imagine that we all are touched by this topic as well. However disturbed however you are, I would say one thing: don’t let this fear get you down. Because that is exactly what terrorists want.

Yes, it is true: what is the aim of terrorists? Spreading terror and fear. Disturbing your normal life in a way that makes it impossible for you not to think of them. Terrorists want you to act out of fear and that’s exactly what we should not do if we don’t want them to win!

Acting out of fear does not only mean that you don’t go out anymore or that you avoid concerts, festivals and big crowds in general. No, it is also about your actions towards people who are different. It comes to your thoughts, attitude and behavior as well! Do you start avoiding those who look different? Do you suddenly change the side of the road if you see a man in different clothing or hairstyle? Does your mindset start moving towards an attitude that would forbid foreigners, even refugees, to come to your country?

Because this is what is happening in many parts of the world right now and this plays directly into the hands of terrorists. What could fuel insecurity, negative feelings and finally hate towards others more than a big politician or leader telling foreigners to stay out of the country? And those leaders are supported by people who act out of fear. Who were affected by the attacks and decided to think against others instead of thinking how we, as society and mankind, can help each other in love instead of fear.

That’s how we get people like Donald Trump as presidential candidates! That’s how we get people like Narender Modi as prime minister.

And that’s how they get the power to fuel this hate even more.

So in the end, in all our democratic countries, it is up to us to decide: do we want to be in fear and give power to those who cash in on fear? Or would we rather despise the acts of terrorists, refuse to let them influence out minds and actions and spread kindness and love?

I request you to do the latter – for the sake of mankind and peace in this world!

Lust – a natural, joyful Feeling – it’s sick to see it as Sickness – 1 Jun 15

A while ago, an acquaintance expressed his view on porn movies to me, mentioning that in his opinion these films create lust in people which is then in consequence the reason for an increasing number of rape cases in India. In short, he thinks the more porn people watch, the more women will be raped.

First of all and before going into further detail, I have to clear one thing here: lust is nothing bad. It is a natural sensation, emotion and feeling and we all have it. Men and women, physically able or not, from children to old people, it exists in every single one of us. Each of us has lust – in fact, if you don’t, something is wrong with you! We have varying levels of lust according to our physical situation due to various hormones in our body and of course our mental situation as well.

It is in normal circumstances also easily accessible. Actually, even a simple thought can bring lust. You don’t need a movie or even a picture for that! You can create that all on your own! Also a regular Bollywood or Hollywood movie can create lust – or just an idea that you have while sitting in your office, working on something completely different! At the same time, if someone has a problem and doesn’t feel lust at all, he can watch hours of porn without ever reaching to the point of lust!

Lust is not only natural, it is really beautiful as well! With your feeling of lust and especially when you have satisfied it, you are automatically drawn into feelings of happiness, of fulfilment and love. It gives you a joy and relief which, in my eyes, makes it impossible to be the reason for rape! There is no room for rape with this happiness. But more about this aspect tomorrow.

Lust has always been a part of this world. It is everywhere – from literature to art, from sculptures in homes to paintings in places of worship. With technology, such imagery has become available to everyone by just a click of the mouse. Unfortunately however the image of lust has still not changed that much.

Still today, a lot of people think lust is wrong. The more radical they get, the worse they think of lust, sex and everything around it. Being lustful is the proof of a sick mind. A healthy mind doesn’t have such thoughts and a pure body shouldn’t have such feelings, longings and desires either. You have to feel guilty if you enjoy sex or think of sex. Any feeling of physical desire has to be suppressed. That’s how very religious people believe in celibacy. Trying to achieve purity by asceticism.

I think this is what is really sick. Religion has put the idea in people’s minds that lust is wrong. It is a mindset which makes people sick, mentally and physically! Celibacy is completely unnatural. Any suppression of physical love-making, claiming to have the purpose of purity is totally unscientific but religion doesn’t care!

Suppression has inspired men and women to explore it even more, although in hidden, and then it bursts out in the really sick ways – as sex crimes which were committed because there was no other outlet to a natural urge!

Lust. For centuries it has had a bad reputation and I think it is about time to change that!

Why I don’t think I will ever go to South Africa again – 19 Oct 14

Time passed while we were grieving for my sister in 2006. At some point, it seemed that we had cried all tears. Yashendu and I were for a month or maybe a bit more than that in India and then took our flights again. He went back to Germany and I flew back to South Africa.

Before my sister’s accident, I had been in South Africa only for a few days. It was my first time in South Africa, actually the first time in Africa at all – and until today the last one as well. I really cannot say that I liked it very much.

I had been giving private sessions, lectures and also some workshops in different yoga studios in Johannesburg. That’s how I was staying with Indians but was as well in contact with a lot of non-Indian South-Africans. All my remaining program had obviously been cancelled but because of my ticket, which I had bought from South India to India and back, I had another two days in this country.

I just didn’t feel very good. Not safe, not relaxed. The house that I stayed in and the ones that I visited all, without exception, had huge fences or walls around the property, on top of that barbed wire and, as I was told, that is more often than not even put connected to electricity so that anybody trying to get through would get an electric shock.

I asked my organizers whether the crime rate was really so high and I got to know from them and many other people that it was really quite dangerous! A family with whom I was invited for dinner told that just two or three months before, their office had been robbed, in spite of all security measures in place.

Obviously, people always exaggerate a bit when telling such stories but I could not help but think of it when walking outside. Someone could kill you just for your mobile. For the five dollar you may have in your pocket.

I was told not to go for a walk outside in the evening, when it was dark. Except for in bright sunshine and of course in the right areas you could walk – but better it was to use the car. I remembered two friends telling me of having been robbed on their holiday. I knew many people liked South Africa and went there as tourists.

I just never felt good there, in a place where danger is always on your mind and you cannot walk outside at all. So why to go to such a place again where you don’t feel secure? Where you feel you have to be always on guard?

I bid my farewell after another two days there and took my flight to Germany.

I was invited again later to South Africa but I declined. One time had been enough.

Indian Men: What you need to change if you don’t want to be seen as a possible Rapist! – 28 Jan 14

I have spent the past week describing the dangers of sexual harassment in India for western women, explaining that Indian women face the same but in every day’s life, making my point that clothing has nothing to do with rape or sexual harassment and finally looking at the root of the problem: the taboo that sex presents in Indian society. Today I want to write an appeal to all Indian men, because we have to make a change!

Yes, you, too, are responsible for this change!

When I write about rape in India, there are always some reactions that say ‘But only criminals are rapists, the common man doesn’t think in this way!’ I agree, you have to have a criminal mindset to go that far but nearly every Indian woman you ask has experienced sexual harassment in her life at least once. So what does this tell us? There are either a whole lot of criminals or that a big part of the male population in this country has the basic inclination towards such disrespectful behavior. Sexual harassment is based in our society, in the way we treat women in daily life.

And I tell you one thing: as long as there is so much sexual harassment on India’s roads, you, the common Indian man, will be seen as a potential threat by every woman passing by, Indian or non-Indian.

I believe you, reading my blog, would never go as far as raping someone. I even hope that you are not one of those who touch women, who pass inappropriate comments when they walk by or even stare at them in a way that makes them comfortable. But what about your thoughts? How do you talk to your friends about women? How about your actions towards women in your family and surrounding? How do you feel for women in general? How do you treat your wife? What do you teach your son? Do you treat your daughter different than your son?

In the general Indian culture, mindset and mentality, Indian men lack respect towards women. They are presented as a Goddess in temples but come last in home, are suppressed and not valued for who they are: individuals with equal rights, with dignity. Do something against that by making a change in your daily life.

Please teach your sons to respect women, to see them and treat them as equal. Show them this behavior yourself and be an example for your friends. Give your wives, daughters, sisters and female friends exactly this respect. Most of all, teach them to love and respect themselves. Don’t tell them what they should wear or not. If they have the wish to study and work, encourage them to realize their dreams. Let your daughter choose a man on her own, someone she really can love. Give them strength and support.

Enjoy your sex life to the fullest. Don’t suppress sexuality but talk with your wife about your and her wishes and fantasies. Realize as many of them as you can. Take time for the two of you, to pamper her and to surprise her. Make your relationship an example of love and respect for your children and friends, showing them what it means to really respect a woman.

Sexual harassment on India’s roads is not something that you can brush off as an act of criminals. It is bad for you. Yes, for you, not only for the reputation of the country and not only for the tourism industry because female foreign travelers choose other destinations. No, it is bad for you because you are seen as a possible rapist by these women, no matter whether you are or not. Do you want to be seen like this?

You are the possible threat until we manage to change our society inside out.

So act towards this change!

Rapist Judges – when Rape is not a Crime but used as Punishment for falling in Love – 27 Jan 14

While I was writing about problems of sexual harassment and rape in India in the past week, another terrible incident happened. A brutal gang-rape in a village in West-Bengal, 180 kilometers from Kolkata. This time, it was no a random victim though. It was not a normal rape. It was a punishment, ordered by the village court. The judges were among the rapists.

The woman was 20 years old and had fallen in love with a man. In the eyes of her community, it was the wrong man, from a neighbouring village – something that the community of the village did not approve of. They found them together and dragged them together in front of a quickly called-in village court.

The girl’s family was asked to pay a fine of 50000 INR – a very big amount which they already knew the family would never be able to pay. When the family told that they could not, they decided on a horrible punishment: the girl would be raped by several men of the village.

She herself could not count anymore how many there really were but it was at least thirteen men. Of these men, there were several whom she called her uncles and brothers, who were close to her like family. The young woman’s family was even prohibited from taking her to the hospital for hours after the assault, although she was deeply injured and bleeding. When they finally made it there, they also filed the police complaint.

The police have arrested thirteen men, including the judges who had given the order for this ‘punishment’, this crime. They still resisted the arrest however and police had to call reinforcements to get the suspects.

It is one of the most shocking crimes of that kind we have read about, not because others were less horrible but because this was not a spontaneous decision of a criminal mind. These rapists thought what they were doing was justice, that this was what they should be doing!

West Bengal is the Indian state with highest number of crimes against women. Village courts, courts of elders make their own laws in remote villages and from such instances you can see what they think of women. What place women have in their society and how powerful men are.

Shock, disgust and more is what you can feel and it makes you wonder how there can still be people who say rape is a victim’s fault and not the fault of a sick mindset of men!

A Woman’s Clothing is not the Reason for Rape and sexual Harassment! – 22 Jan 14

After posting day before yesterday’s blog entry, in which I explained that my western wife and friends get stared at on the street and it makes them uncomfortable, I got a reply that I absolutely had not expected: someone actually said that it was because of their clothing! Now just to get that clear once more: sexual harassment and also rape cases don’t happen because of a woman’s clothing!

This man – obviously it was a man – said, when in India, one should wear Indian clothing. A sari, ‘covering oneself like women’. Then nobody would care but ‘if you go like a westerner, you attract glances!’

On the example of my wife and the glances she gets: she never wears revealing clothing but it doesn’t matter if she goes out in a Punjabi suit, a sari or jeans and t-shirt, her skin is white, she is a woman, Indian men stare. And whatever she wears doesn’t justify in any way that you look at her like this. On a side note – and I am including this on her special request – a sari does not nearly cover as much as her western clothing of jeans and t-shirt would cover! The big portion of belly and back which is revealed in a sari means that she would show a whole lot of skin more in that!

I actually thought we were past the point that people still thought a woman’s clothing to be the reason for her being violated! Obviously not. Obviously there are still people who believe that women are raped merely because they wear a skirt, because they don’t cover their shoulders, because they wear short pants. To make it short, that is just utter nonsense.

Women in all clothing get harassed – and from all nationalities. If clothing was the matter, how come so many Indian women get looks and remarks while walking in their saris? I yesterday already told that it is, in fact, mostly Indian women who have to deal with this!

For all those who still write such nonsense even on social networking pages: have you not seen the video ‘It’s your fault’ which got viral with its sarcastic point of view on blaming victims of sexual harassment? Have you not seen the photos that rape victims posted of themselves in the clothes they were raped in? It is not the clothing, it is not what they were wearing!

It is just NOT the fault of the victim, no matter where she went, what she was wearing, how she looks like and how she was acting! You can never say she was ‘asking for it’! There is no justification for such a crime and this includes touching and looking as well!

Really, why would a woman need to cover up in order not to get raped? Don’t women in burqas get raped, too? Fully covered up for this purpose but still violated? Most of the rapes in India actually happen in rural villages – where women never wear pants or t-shirts but the traditional Indian dress, ‘properly covering up’ their skin, head and hair! Why do children and even babies get raped? How did they wear revealing clothing that ‘asked for it’?

Why would any woman have to worry about sexual harassment because of her clothing? Just because a man cannot control his sexual urge? Because he is the real weak gender who is driven only by his sick mind?

If you give an argument like the one above, you show me clearly what is going on in your mind when a woman walks past you in revealing clothing. Now I have to ask: how far are you from harassing her sexually? How far are you yourself from the rape that you read about in the news?

Not too far, obviously, or you would feel ashamed of saying something like this.

Daily sexual Harassment in the average Indian Woman’s Life – 21 Jan 14

While writing mainly about sexual harassment of western women in India yesterday, I want to include those victims today who are facing this much more frequently: Indian women, those who live in this country and walk these streets every day. They are the ones whose cases don’t get highlighted in international media. Even the national media does not look much at their complaints. The problem is that it is just too ‘normal’.

I don’t want to talk about rape that much here as I want to talk about harassment. According to a report I recently read, 93% of rape cases happen with a person known to the victim, an act of domestic violence, with father, uncle, family friend or relative. I want to talk about that which happens every day out on the roads: the stares full of lust, the insinuating remarks, the hands that touch bottoms or even breasts in crowded buses, trains or shops.

Let’s go back to the beginnings of such harassment, the stares on the street. I told you that men look at my non-Indian female friends in an inappropriate way whenever I am out with them on the road. Their looks are missing respect and I have felt many times that these men are already raping that woman with their eyes! I once even asked one of such men: ‘Why are you staring?’ His answer was: ‘Hey, I am only looking!’ So he is ‘only’ looking, not ripping off her clothes!

Dear western women, while you are shocked when this happens to you, it happens much more often to Indian women. You can go to your embassy in the worst case, if you call the police, it will be taken seriously, if you even shout out, there will be more support for you than there will be for an Indian woman – because it has become nearly normal for them. Uncountable female friends in India have told me that they believe there is not one Indian woman who has not made this experience in her life.

Yes, the average Indian woman even says that this kind of sexual harassment, by looks, words and touch, is part of her daily life! This is the reason why mothers tell their daughters to stay away from men. This is the reason why fathers tell their daughters not to go out much, to stay at home. This is the reason why parents send brothers and cousins to accompany their daughters and this is the reason why girls go out in groups and are worried about their safety.

It would be too much to say that every man who stares without any respect at a woman is a rapist. In all fairness, one cannot even say that he is a future rapist or a possible rapist. Still however the thought remains: when he is raping with his eyes while everyone is around, what would he do if there was nobody? What if he really got a chance?

Now however, it feels that there is a new wind blowing in the country. Women go to self-defense classes, you can see them shout down men who passed comments, you read about groups of women who dare standing up for their rights, you see them protest for their safety and security. We can see that things are moving and we hope they will move fast!

I will write in the next days further about the root of this problem and also will give safety tips for female travelers in India. In the meantime, stay safe everyone!

India’s bad Image for female non-Indian Travelers – 20 Jan 14

Last week we got the news that a female Danish tourist in Delhi was gang-raped after she had got lots of her way home to her hotel one night. Obviously, it is horrible to hear about this. And unfortunately this is not a one-time, single incident, it is one of many cases of rape and sexual harassment that have been reported over the past months!

There may be people saying that this woman, who walked home alone from a museum in the dark, should not have asked a group of men for help. There may be people saying she should have walked back the way she came instead. There may be some saying that she shouldn’t have got lost in the first place or not have booked into a hotel in that area.

The reality is however: rape is never the fault of the victim. It just should not happen. You should not need to be afraid of asking someone for help! You should be able to walk the roads without fear, even by night and also alone, as a woman, no matter of which nationality. That is a fact that is true for me for any country out of India as well. It should not happen.

Unfortunately, the image of Indian hospitality is getting dark stains these days when such events repeatedly occur in this country. The result is something we have increasingly been seeing and hearing from our female western guests: women are afraid of travelling to India. Here is the example of an email that we recently received:

"I also would like to have some advice about the danger of traveling alone in India, cause I've never been before and I've read some reports saying that men in India suffer some kind of sexually starvation because of the traditional culture, a girl was raped on a bus, etc., so I'd like to know if it's safe to get buses, trains, walk on the streets without being chased. or robbed…could you give me some advice about that? Thanks and all the best for all of you. Love, ******* "

Please note that this is not the first time we get such an email! It is normal now and when those women finally arrive here, they are still full of questions for their safety, how they should behave and more! I can understand because it is a part of India’s reality today.

When I go out here, in India, with my European wife and some friends, including more white women, I can see how the crowd looks at them! It doesn’t seem right, there is no respect in the eyes of the average man who looks at them walking by! This is my own personal experience when I am out with my friends and if I can feel this, you can imagine what these women will feel! They are sensitive towards these glances already – so what about a crowd, where nobody knows whose hand this just was that touched their bottoms? Or a dark street on the way home – isn’t it obvious that there is a certain amount of fear?

In spite of all of this however, I still want to say yes, come to India. In the next days, I want to tell you about the roots of this problem, I want to write an appeal to Indian men and finally I want to give all of those non-Indian female travelers a few tips for travelling in India as a white woman. I believe it won’t be the regular advice you can read everywhere these days because it is first-hand experience of my German wife and me. Follow my blog entries of the next days to read more.