Twenty-six-year-old Marie, a German national, came to India in September this year to work with an environmental NGO based-out of Chennai. Her short stay here, however, has been marred by a rather unpleasant experience.
Last week, she took to Facebook to describe an incident she encountered in a local bar in Chennai in November.
Marie said in her Facebook post that someone had spiked her drink at the bar, and had it not been for the group she had come with which dropped her to her apartment safely, an unfortunate incident could have taken place.
While her post was widely shared, what Marie found surprising was the diverse reactions she received for telling her story.
Though many people supported her, there were also those who doubted her and her version of what happened in the bar. She was told that her drink was not spiked and that it was likely that she could not hold her liquor.
"In Germany, drinking is socially accepted. Besides, nobody can judge my reaction to alcohol better than I can," she says.
Marie also alleges that the bar was uncooperative initially and that the manager did not think that there was even a "possibility of me being drugged".
She points out to an earlier Facebook post made on the bar's Facebook post which stated that "some misapprehension and false allegations (are) going around in social media" about the bar and asked people not to believe them.
The bar later posted another note on its Facebook page mentioning that it is "taking all steps to look into the concerns raised by her".
Marie says she knows two other women, who are Indians, whose drinks were also spiked.
Asked whether this was the only untoward incident she has faced in the country, she says that while her "white skin" and "blonde hair" does attract regular stares, she has also been groped once. But she feels that all women, including her Indian female friends, face the same issues and that it is a problem of mindset and not colour.
( We have reached out to the bar for a reaction. The copy will be updated when we get a response. )
This is what Marie wrote in her post.
About two and a half weeks ago, we went out for a drink in the local dance bar 'Small World' with a couple of volunteers. We were having a nice evening, and next thing I remember is waking up very confused the next morning. From what I was told, I had collapsed and thrown up in the middle of the bar and was unconscious for the rest of the evening. Somebody apparently had spiked my drink with a date rape drug. Thank goodness there were two strong volunteers with me, who carried me out and took me home. On the way home, one of the two guys also collapsed, as he must have had a sip of my drink. Therefore, a hero of a human being single handedly carried both of us home and put us to bed. The black eye must have happened while falling while I was unconscious.
The tragedy in this story is that we didn't even go to the police. As we were told from many reliable sources, going to the police would have resulted in even more trouble and would have yielded no justice. The reason for this is that the police would have pointed fingers as me, because I'm a woman and I was not supposed to be out at such an hour, let alone drink. Also, as I found out later, the bar where it happened appears to already bribe the cops, since some shady stuff happened there before without any consequences. In the same bar, our friend group knows two further incidents where girls had been drugged.
And since this was not enough, we were also almost kicked out of our appartment. Our landlords had noticed us coming home at night and seen the state we had been in. They could not comprehend that we were the victims in this story and made it seem like we were doing something sinful. However, we are increadibly lucky to have such a supportive and helpful group of people around us that were with us every step and stood behind us. One of these amazing people also talked to our landlords and managed for us to stay in the appartment - with a warning.
What happened to us can happen anywhere. Take this as a reminder to always watch your drink. Since in our case, the drink may even have been spiked behind the bar, it's better to buy a bottled drink which you see being opened.