Tuesday, June 11, 2013

India – A dangerous country for women to spend holidays? Certainly not, but ...

This is what exactly I feared. Continuous news feeds of single and gang rapes coming from different parts of India are creating an impression that, nation is not safe for women. Unfortunately it is spreading an erroneous message - being a woman is enough to get raped, it doesn’t matter whether one is eight year old or eighty year old.

This may not be authentic, you can cry that more than 5000 year old Indian culture teaches us to admire women; these are isolated episodes; number of rapes per capita is low in India etc. But for those who want to spend vacation in India, to attend a business conference, to study in Indian universities; these news are providing enough reason to think twice about the visit.

According to NYT, “Visits to India by female tourists dropped 35 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. That three-month period came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December...”

High level media frenzy related to betting in IPL, election news etc is relentlessly trying to push the subject of women’s safety under the carpet. Rape incidents, coming every day in corners of newspapers may make this brutal crime look like an every incident. Gradually we may go back to steady state and overlook it. Nevertheless safety is an important factor in selecting holiday destinations. Those who do a small research on India will definitely come across these horrible incidents. Who want to live in a state of fear during vacations?
India is indeed incredible as GOI wants everybody to believe. Rapes and other violence against foreign women tourists are isolated incidents. Regrettably even a single incident would do enough damage to the reputation of our country here and abroad.

These reports are an indicator, we should take up the safety of women living here and coming from abroad as first priority. Raising a separate tourist police force in popular destinations, professional training for guides, drivers etc may solve the problem to an extent. However, permanent solution demands a fundamental change in beliefs, concepts, outlooks and mindset.


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