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Ostracised and fetishised: The perils of travelling as a young black woman

May 9, 2018
Ashley Butterfield

Ashley Butterfield, 31, has been around the world – but a visit to India brought home the particular challenges of being a lone black female tourist.

“Are blacks better in bed because of genetics or diet?” the middle-aged Indian restaurant owner asked me earnestly as I finished the dinner he had prepared.

Although not a question that one typically expects when requesting the bill, I was not unsettled. Having worked in international development for the past seven years and having travelled in 30 countries, mostly alone, I have grown accustomed to hearing things that most people would find jarring. However, I didn’t feel defiant, upset or even threatened by him.

Ostracised and fetishised: The perils of travelling as a young black womanOstracised and fetishised: The perils of travelling as a young black woman

This was not the first time I’d experienced this sort of thing.

Once I fell asleep on a bus in north India and woke up to a man, inches away from me, videoing me on his phone.

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