Goaaaaa. That's where we want to be. The first place India's youth think of going when the idea of solo travel or a college trip emerges on the scene. And why is that? The legendary stories of the shacks. The chilling at Britto’s by Baga, soaking in the salt and turning a tan, water sports at Calangute and the flea market at Anjuna. The list is long but all reasons are good enough. The big question is - is the Goa dream fizzling away for India's young? Forget other choices but those who want to go to Goa are now worried about safety.
Women pack their resort wear - no matter whether you are crashing at a shack or enjoying a cocktail by a five star pool. For years it's been a mix of fun, risk and party but now it's going a bit out of hand? What's hurting the Goa we have loved? Why are we hearing more headlines on rape?
This is exactly what happened in the recent rape and murder case of the Irish woman who was found dead at Canacona on the occasion of Holi. Danielle McLaughlin (28) was raped and strangled to death by the accused, Vikat Bhagat. That's not all. Bhagat then went on to smash her face with the shards of a beer bottle. He has been arrested by the Canacona police and investigation is on.
The reasons that led Bhagat to commit such a heinous crime are yet not known. But whatever could that logic be? And this incident speaks volumes of the state of Goa safety?
At the time of the rape, the Irish woman was wearing a black top and shorts. Are we now going to justify her shorts were the reason for rape?
Is this the kind of safety we are providing to our tourists when we say “Atithi Devo Bhava”? We certainly did not treat the Irish lady as a Devi, rather made a Rakshasa out of ourselves when we let that happen to her.
McLaughlin’s is not the only case that caught global attention, about nine years ago, there were a series of crimes against foreigner women that created an uproar. A British national was raped by an Indian who offered her a bike ride and she accepted. In another case, 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling was raped and then murdered on Anjuna beach in February 17, 2008.
And this is not the case with foreign tourists only, Goans are not safe themselves. In 2013, a seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped in the toilet of her school in Vasco and even today, justice has not been served to her. Even the CBI has failed to trace the offender in this case and is insisting on closing it.
A National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report of 2015 shows that 34,000 rape cases were reported in Goa in the year. And not to forget that the reported number of rape cases is never the actual number of rapes that take place.
Is this how Goan government will ensure safety to Indian and foreigner women?
Goa, a proclaimed paradise for youngsters to go and have fun and a favourite haunt of foreign backpackers, will not have the same image for anyone after this particular incident that has grabbed headlines not just in India but abroad as well. I for one am thinking - what's the big deal. Strike off Goa from my list?
Feature Image Credit- Holidify