I should not have to apologise for what is on my skin says Australian harassed in Bengaluru over Goddess tattooPic from Deccan Chronicle
news Monday, October 19, 2015 - 10:38

In a series of Facebook posts, an Australian man, who was visiting Bengaluru with his girlfriend, expressed his dissent over the attack on him by a mob who found a tattoo of a goddess on his shin.

The man, a law student Matthew Keith, was even forced to write a letter of apology at a police station.

On Saturday, Matt Keith and his friend Emily, who were near Residency road, were heckled by an angry crowd for having a tattoo of Hindu goddess Yellamma on his shin.

“One of them came to me and confronted me about my tattoo,” he told The Hindu.

Twenty-one-year-old Keith alleged that he was forced by the angry crowd and the Ashok Nagar police to write a letter of apology. The policemen who came to the eatery apparently gave a lecture to the couple about ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Hindu values’.

This is the letter that Matthew gave the police.

“My name is Matthew visiting from Melbourne, Australia. I am very sorry for offending Hindu religious beliefs by my tattoo. I didn't know of this auspicious custom in regard to tattoo placement. I will make sure to cover it up until I am in India. Thanking you for educating me on what is appropriate. I am also extremely sorry for using inappropriate language.”

"I should not have to apologise for what is on my skin and be put in a traumatising situation where it is apparently acceptable to be harassed, threatened and mobbed. Tolerance, understanding and equality is what we live by I respect India and Hinduism completely. That's why I spent 35 hours getting a massive Ganesha put on my back and 4 hours getting the Goddess of the lowest rung of Indian society (Yellamma) on the only bit of space I had left on my body. Because my spiritual journey is my decision, as are the markings on my body. I do not deserve to be victimised and have to physically defend myself and my girlfriend every day. She does not deserve sexual abuse both physical and verbal. We support equality for all, tolerance of everyone and especially for the women in this country.”- Matthew on Facebook.

Emily described the incident, “Matt and I found ourselves sitting in Ashoknagar Police station accused of 'intentionally spreading hatred'. We repeatedly asked to leave, but were detained, although we were told we had not violated any criminal law.”

She also wrote about other experiences in India, “Two weeks ago, I was groped and sexually assaulted at a concert. After being aggressively fondled, I thought to myself 'surely this is my Indian horror story.' At every turn it seems that I find myself on the back foot of Indian society. When I leave the house, I have to prepare myself for what is potentially lurking outside….

According to a newspaper report, both the sub-inspector and inspector of Ashok Nagar police station denied such a thing happened.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.