Monday, March 25, 2013

Incredible India and sexual attacks directed towards women

Sexual attacks on women and foreigners are slowly but steadily eroding the image of India as a safe place for women. This is particularly damning for our tourism sector. Whatever positive opinion generated by 'Incredible India!' campaign may evaporate considerably, if we are not able to put a full stop to sexual attacks on women and foreign women tourists.

Who would like to go to a country, where the possibility of suffering sexual attacks – even rape - is real? Some days back, US State Department warned female travellers to "observe stringent security precautions" and "avoid travelling alone in hired taxis, especially at night". Briton followed the suit, and remembered their citizens that, "women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men".

In a country like India, which claims to respect and worship women, is not supposed to metamorphosed to a state where women fears to walk alone through the streets after 8 in the evening. It is not that, India is unsafe for women. Sexual attacks are not uncommon around the world; no matter whether it is developed, emerging or least developed country.

According to Pentagon, in US - high priest of liberty and equality - military, "about 19,000 sex crimes take place in each year. Many of the victims are male, but men in the service face the same risk of sexual assault as civilian men do... women who join the military face a much higher risk of sexual assault than civilian women...  estimates that only 14% of sexual assaults get reported... According to the Pentagon's own research, more than 1 in 4 women who join the military will be sexually assaulted during their careers ".

When potential foreign tourists hear about steady stream of sexual assault reports, they will think hundred times before deciding to spend their holiday in India. Why foreigners? Even Indians will fear.

Recently a "female British tourist was admitted to hospital after jumping through a hotel window over fears of a sex attack in the Indian city of Agra"; "Swiss tourist was gang-raped while on a cycling holiday in the central state of Madhya Pradesh"; "South Korean student who said she was raped and drugged by the son of the owner of the hotel where she stayed during a holiday in January"; "A Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, a town bordering the Indian capital, was also reportedly raped by an acquaintance last month". Note that Agra is home to India's iconic Taj Mahal, and above said Swiss tourist was with her husband. These are not the only incidents.

Just imagine, how many friends of these victims will dare to come to India for spending their vacation? Forget about friends, anyone in those countries who heard about these incidents will think thousand times before booking a flight ticket.

It’s totally wrong to say that India is dangerous to women. What happened in Delhi or Agra or MP may not happen in Shillong or Mumbai or Trivandrum or Bhubaneswar or Ajmer or Hyderabad or Ooty or Ladak. It may not repeat again in the same place.


Unfortunately damage is already done. Now if we are not ready to follow it up, prosecute the culprits and bring the cases quickly to a logical end, it will send a wrong message. If government cares about the brand called India and India's tourism sector, then it is important to work overtime to remove this taboo. Holidays are supposed to be happy moments; nobody wants to live a life filled with perpetual fear.



1. Off The Battlefield, Military Women Face Risks From Male Troops - NPR

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