Is India safe for Women Travelers ?
Recently, women’s safety in India has been in the news. Many women expressed concerns about traveling to India and many opted not to go at all.
So why go to India?
There is a common threat faced Indian women& foreigner visitors alike such as staring, groping, stalking, and rape.
With such threats,it may make you wonder if India is worth the worry and the hassle. Why not skip it entirely in favor of less troublesome destination?
One reason: No other country will fascinate you more.
Although travel in India will require heightened attention and common sense, we assure you it is worth it.
It is impossible to stereotype a nation of one billion people. The challenge lies in refusing to accept such occurrences as the status quo, while still choosing to focus on the positive. This might sound trite or naïve, but it’s a choice that India demands of you.
Here are few tips to help ward off unwanted situations – but also keep you open to positive experiences:
1. Do your homework well
Spend time learning about India and its customs before arriving. The most important preparation for India is being mentally ready .
2. Dress appropriately.
This goes without saying. India is a conservative country, so be respectful of that by covering your shoulders and legs and watch your cleavage. Consider wearing Indian attires e.g kurta (long, loose tunic) or a salwar kameez , which can easily be picked up once you arrive at local markets.The only possible exception to this is Goa, whose well-known beaches are now quite westernized. But be aware that although it is more acceptable to wear a bikini here, you might still attract unwanted advances.
3. Discern when telling the truth may help you
If you are single , in your 20’s or 30’s and traveling alone , there are chances that men will find it a bit strange and you can safely avoid unwanted advance towards you, by faking a wedding ring or pretending to have a fake husband who works in Mumbai. Use your judgement and get a sense of whether or not , a white lie may help protect you. Consider making a mention of a husband or boyfriend who is arriving shortly and don’t make friendly conversations with the male staff. Instead, befriend any women, if they happen to work there.
4. On a train journey, book upper berth.
Nowhere in the world, except in India, is the train journey so much fun. Everyone has memories about their journeys in Indian trains – the couple who helped them get off at the right station, or the family who shared their home cooked food , or the college student who said to wake him if they faced any problem .However its also important to take certain precautions too. When booking your journey, request an upper berth. This way your bags will be secure and also, upper berth will give you a sense of privacy and keep you out of the fray at night as you sleep. There is a lot of hustle bustle on Indian trains – during the day, a constant stream of vendors move by selling food and beverages , and even at night, passengers are constantly getting on and off the train.
5. Don’t arrive at a new place at night
Try to avoid late-night arrivals or departures. This is as much an issue of safety as it is for financial reasons – cunning touts will be out, hoping to take advantage of those who appear lost or without a plan. Book at least your first night’s accommodation in advance so that you’re confident on where you’re headed when you leave the airport or train station. Also avoid traveling on foot at night, as well as by are better instead. Note the license plate of the vehicle, make a call on their cell phone (whether real or staged), and state the plate number and destination. Carry a pepper spray.
6. Be assertive
In a country whose classic head nod can mean a yes/ no/ maybe/ not now or “we’ll see”, it’s difficult to firmly tell someone “no” in India. But as a woman on your own, this is necessary at times. When you are traveling alone as a woman protect yourself and don’t hesitate to use a strong word or silent response. In a market, be assertive. To make it through a bunch of persistent and persuasive vendors, a polite “no thank you” may often have little effect than a saying “no” in a sharp tone of voice, or even with “nah!” the Hindi word for no.
7. Watch your body language
Never give them any sort of indication that you might be interested in men around you. The important thing to remember is that an action or gesture that may come naturally to you, such as touching someone’s arm while talking to them, might be misinterpreted in a conservative country like India. Be mindful of keeping your physical distance from men even while being open to them, especially on public transportation .Interacting with men in India is a constant balancing act of being guarded and friendly.
8. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home
It’s true that travel opens you up to new experiences and pushes you out of your comfort zone, but at the same time, be sensible and ask yourself if you would do something at home. Things like hitchhiking, going out alone at night, and accepting drinks from men you don’t know are risky no matter where you are in the world.
9. Consider traveling with a group
Visiting India for the first time can be intimidating to some, so perhaps beginning your time there on a tour through companies such as us can help you get acclimated. A huge part of traveling alone is learning to trust your own instincts. Before you can trust those you meet on the road, you have to learn to trust yourself. Develop this sense of self-trust before venturing to India alone
10. Know that mass photo-taking sessions will happen
This happens enough in India that I feel it’s worth mentioning: If you suddenly find yourself at the center of a flurry of photo requests, especially at key historic sites, go with the flow – for as long as you feel comfortable.
You may be asked to have my photo taken with different families or groups of young men. This may seem strange, but it’s usually harmless.
11. Begin your time in India – away from big cities
Think of heading to places such as Dharamsala, the home of the Dalai Lama and surrounded by the Himalaya; Jaisalmer, an ancient fort city in Thar Desert; Fort Cochin, a colonial town with easy access to Kerala’s peaceful backwaters; and lesser-known spots in Goa such as Colomb Bay, located between Palolem and Patnem beaches. These are all places where you ‘ll find a certain calm and respite from having to be on guard. Although it’s tempting to begin in the Golden Triangle – i.e Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur – the intense crowds there might not give you the space to adjust and adapt to India.
12. Keep an open heart
Although India can be a bit difficult to adapt to, there will be moments when being the center of attention is overwhelming.
Furthermore, keep in mind that staying safe while visiting India is part of a larger issue at hand – what it means to simply being a woman in India. The threats faced by female travelers are things that Indian women have been dealing with their entire life, and will still be dealing with for long after you leave.
Ultimately, there is no secret to staying safe here , as a traveler. It is a process of being wise and listening to your instincts – just as you would anywhere else in the world. Indians love to welcome foreigners, so trust your gut , and accept our hospitality and kindness.
India is a complicated and chaotic country, and yet it is also a place of inconceivable beauty and warmth.
Come , Explore , Experience ,Enriche!