Don’t Visit India Unless Necessary, Says Every Government Ever
With the second assault on a Japanese tourist in less than three months, India is officially on the blacklist of tourist destinations.
On Feb. 8, a Japanese national-tourist in Jaipur was allegedly raped by a man claiming to be a tour guide, while he was dropping her to her guesthouse. And not too long before that, in November 2014, six men from Kolkata allegedly kidnapped, robbed and raped a Japanese woman in Bodh Gaya, Bihar.
After newspapers reported the Bodh Gaya incident, the government-backed travel agencies in Japan and China instantly issued caution notices across the country insisting that “women avoid all non-essential travel to India.”
What was considered to be a threat only against Indian women, is now a threat for women in general, on the Indian terrain, after the series of rapes of the Swiss cyclist in Madhya Pradesh, the Irish charity worker in Kolkata, the German teenager on a Mangalore-Chennai train, and the Danish woman in Delhi.
The US, the UK, Canada and Australia refer to it as the “rape epidemic” in the country.
“Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. If you’re being collected at the airport by a hotel driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off.”
The US is rather elaborate about being wary of everything that goes wrong with women unfamiliar with the land:
“Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions, restricting evening entertainment to well-known venues, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of day. Keep your hotel room number confidential and make sure hotel room doors have chains, deadlocks, and peep holes. When possible, travel around the area with groups of friends rather than alone.” The advisory also tells women to dress conservatively and respect local customs.
The Australian government gives its women travelers a reality check, saying foreign women get unwanted attention; and successful prosecutions for sexual harassment and assault in India are rare.
“Exercise vigilance at all times of the day, avoid walking in less populous and unlit areas, including city streets, village lanes and beaches, and take care when travelling in taxis and rickshaws. Avoid travelling alone on public transportation, autos and taxis, particularly at night.”
Travel blogs are trying to balance out the pros and cons, without being in denial of the problem. Lonely Planet asks travellers to be prepared for some unpleasantness and not let it put off a beautiful experience:
“You’re very unlikely to experience violent crime as a woman traveller in India; it’s sexual harassment that you may experience—more so in tourist towns and larger cities in the north of the country. Rude comments, voyeurism, and men ‘brushing against’ or groping women are all common.”
In another blog travel writer Candace Rardon says:
“While travel in India will require heightened attention and common sense, let me assure you it is worth it. Although I did encounter men who stared at me inappropriately, there were countless others who in no way treated me as a sexual object—farmers and pharmacists, shopkeepers and teachers, men whose warmth, kindness, and compassion moved me in unexpected ways.”