Is India safe for women travellers?

photograph of Mariellen at the aarti in Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela, APril 2010

Me at the aarti in Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela, April 2010

The Delhi Gang Rape has provoked widespread outrage, protest — and fear

Following the vicious rape of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012 (called the Delhi Gang Rape by the media), a British newspaper published an article by a woman about her experiences as a foreign woman travelling in India. According to the article, she was constantly stalked and groped and made to feel afraid during her travels in India.

That was her experience, and I certainly honour it. But it’s not mine. I have had a relatively smooth time travelling in India. I have travelled in India for about 17 months in total, over the past seven years, and visited 15 states — most of it solo. I have taken trains, buses, autorickshaws, taxis, elephants and motorcycles (as a passenger). I have been north and south, east and west. I have meditated by the Ganga, swam in the ocean, rode a camel in the desert and much more. In all that time, I have rarely felt unsafe.

Click here to read My top tips for travelling safely in India.

There have been minor incidents, that were unpleasant and intrusive, but not threatening. I was groped while riding through Old Delhi in a cycle rickshaw in 2006. And I had a strange man deliberately give me wrong directions, and then follow me and try and chat me up, in Mumbai, in 2010. As a tall blonde Canadian woman with light skin, I have certainly had my share of stares. But very rarely has it gone beyond that, and I think the media sensationalizing has made it sound worse than it is. (Case in point, this was a question posted on a Yahoo! Answers forum recently: “Is it safe for women to travel in India, or will the Indian men try to rape and murder them as many Indian men seem to like to do?”)

Given the media attention that the Delhi Gang Rape has provoked, you would think India is a haven for perverts and rapists and that it’s unsafe for women to walk down the street. If you are unaware of the Delhi Gang Rape story, a 23-year-old student named Jyoti Singh Pandey got on the wrong bus in Delhi on the night of Dec. 16, 2012, and was brutally raped and assaulted. After a courageous struggle in hospital, she died 13 days later of massive internal injuries.

Students in India hold placards during a protest against the Delhi gang rape case. Photo: PTI

Students in India hold placards during a protest against the Delhi gang rape case. Photo: PTI

The horror of this assault, and the young woman’s brave fight for life, gripped the nation and dominated the traditional and social media for many weeks. It was horrible and exciting to be in India during this period. I felt very glum, heavy and dark. It was during this period — the penumbra — that I decided to cut short my trip and go home three months’ early. (Not for this reason, though — read my blog There’s no place like home.)

And yet I also felt encouraged by the media attention given to this case and to the issue of women’s safety in India. The incident provoked widespread protest and opened up dialogue on rape, women’s safety, and the general treatment of women in India.

Billboard in Delhi: She is dead. Wake up India. Stop sexual terrorism.

To be in India — and especially in Delhi — at this time was a once in a lifetime experience: I sensed that a societal paradigm shift is underway. The genie was let out of the bottle, and India will never be the same.

Everywhere I went in Delhi, people were talking about the case, and the issue. One day, I went to a luncheon at a private club in South Delhi (where all the women are well-to-do and over 40) expecting a cultural program. The organizers announced the program was cancelled and, instead, we lit candles in honour of Jyoti, the rape victim. At my table, the conversation was dominated by the topic, and how women should be able to feel safer in India.

The silver lining to this terrible story is that it shone a light on rampant sexism in India — a sexism that often makes raped women feel they are the ones who are bringing shame on their families. And it has also opened up a debate about the role of women, and their safety, in Indian society.

Enough poster

Image: DNAIndia.com

All of this is ultimately good, I hope. I was in India during this period; in Delhi when her father made her name public. I was encouraged by the protests and other signs that women are fighting back; and encouraged to see politicians, police and lawmakers realizing they have to take measures to make India safe for money — such as more severe punishment for rapists.

No one wants to see women treated with equality and respect more than me. And India has a long way to go. But in my experience, India is not as barbaric or as unsafe as the media makes it sound — certainly not for foreign women travellers. And the usual tone of judgement, condescension and sometimes even racism is often found in western media reports about this case and situation.

And as one of the commenters on my Facebook page said, “What I do find interesting in these debates, is how we have in the west traditionally seen our “norms” to be the benchmark for the world. I find that really quite silly. Our norms are just as clumsy and debase women in different ways, it’s a fruitless occupation trying to instill our norms on countries whose people occupy a different timeline.”

See the Breathedreamgo Facebook page for a lengthy debate by numerous women travellers in India, many of whom agree with me: if you take certain precautions, manage your expectations, and feel confident, you should be able to avoid most unwanted attention. One commenter wrote: “The problem that I see, just based on the story, was that the young women expected that India would be like their country — going to bars at night, climbing into the front of the rickshaw, swimming. There are many countries that if you want to travel in them, you follow their norms. I have been to India and travelled solo with none of these experiences however, I too, covered by body with loose clothing. It is a great country but like any other, you need to do your research before you go.”

Naturally, in an ideal world, all men would treat all women with respect and we wouldn’t need to utilize safety strategies, but given the reality of life — in India and just about every where else — here are My top tips for travelling safely in India.

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32 Responses to Is India safe for women travellers?

  1. Shreepal Singh Shekhawat January 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Again a splendid article Mariellen. i wondered what Indian govt. could do to change this point of view of foreign people for India, i realize they can’t do anything. only people like you are the hope for India. I really wish your blog sends out a message in your friends that India is not as bad as they think. Good luck for your future, Mariellen!!!

  2. Sunil Shibad January 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    By and large North India is dangerous for women. West and South India are safe for women. In Mumbai a woman can travel alone at 2 am with no fear.

  3. Anonymous January 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    “I have been to India and travelled solo with none of these experiences however, I too, covered by body with loose clothing.”

    What would have happened had you not covered your body with loose clothing and wore jeans and a tight t-shirt instead? THAT is what people in India are protesting.

    If you have to wear loose clothing because not doing so might get you harassed or raped, then it’s not really a safe country for women, is it? That’s again what this fight is about– NOT putting the onus on the women or the victims.

    As it happens, foreign women are much safer in India than Indian women are because Indian men still fear the power that white skin yields.

    • Raja Shah February 12, 2013 at 1:18 am #

      [NOTE: THIS COMMENT IS IN RESPONSE TO A PREVIOUS COMMENT BY ANONYMOUS. I, PERSONALLY, WOULD NEVER USE A PHRASE LIKE “THE POWER THAT WHITE SKIN YIELDS.” MARIELLEN]

      “The power that white skin yields”, broad general statement – opinion. Not a fact. As I can only express my own reality – my truth – as an Indian man I do not give any extra merit to a white woman solely for being white. This is your illusion – expresses your reality, your own feelings and your need to differentiate and categorize people. Your own inability to embrace the reality of masses of authentic individuals rich in their own unique experiences irregardless to that which you find relevant — for truly you and your beliefs on skin are truly irrelevant (at the least to me, an Indian man). There may be instances of poor minded peoples attracted to that which is new, albeit alike or an unalike – but this is their own unique experience and in now way represents the whole of Indian men. Take care and remember to stay in the shade – wouldn’t want to compromise that which you find to empower you!

    • Monica April 2, 2013 at 1:49 am #

      That’s BS! If anything foreign women are more targeted for harassment because they are believed to be easier than indian women, and they have no connections here in India.

  4. Mariellen Ward January 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Thanks for the comments, I’m glad so many people are talking about this issue.

    Anon, I said at the end of the article, in an ideal world women would not have to resort to safety tactics. But we are brought up, from birth, being taught that we are vulnerable and that we have to protect ourselves from men. And that’s in Canada as well as India, and everywhere else. Here, we are told things such as don’t walk down a dar alley at night. In India, we are are told don’t wear revealing clothing. Is anywhere safe for women?

  5. Shubhajit January 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Bravo! This is an excellent article..more meaningful than lurid reporting by Indian media and so called analysts..

  6. Erin Lynn January 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I think that this is an interesting perspective on Delhi and India. Whislt I agree, I found my experience to be quite different. Living in South Delhi for three months while I worked as an intern, I was harrassed by men every single day. If I could get to work without one comment, I counted it a good day. I did not go out drinking in bars, wear skimpy clothing or behave in a foreign way to the locals. Indeed if I had, I would have been ‘asking’ for trouble (as much as I hate that expression).

    When I would get frustrated with the way I was treated, I would think “I bet they don’t do this to their own women”, turns out, after speaking with friends (Indian and foreign) I was very, very wrong.

    I do think Delhi is unsafe for solo women but there are certain precautions that can be taken to reduce risk. And that is what it is all about. I don’t think women should be scared of travelling to India without a man, or without a companion. But women should be aware of the dangers, and act accordingly.

    I too was in Delhi at the time of the gang rape, but I was quite happy to leave because I had felt such sadness and anger about my own experiences. I will return to India again (My husband is actually half Indian!) but it will take me some time to work through my experiences and put meaning to them.

    Thanks again for a wonderful post.

    PS I went to Aurovalley Ashram with a friend based on your recommendation – it was amazing!

    • Raja Shah February 12, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      Its a shame the way most behave, irregardless of race, nationality or their current locality — majority of people behave in an uncivilized manner. I am currently writing this in the heart of Manhattan in Times Square. I am currently witnessing – just as I sit here right now – all kinds of uncivilized behaviors. The most humorous and relevant is the old white guy with extremely poor hygiene that is currently harassing a group of Asian girls (all donning winter coats). Should I be alarmed, put on my cape and Captain America shirt? I am not, this is the norm here in New York City. I find that people in general behave poorly – irregardless of where I am – as the masses have a poor self awareness and as such lack an empathetic logic. I could just as well be sitting in London’s Leicester Square, Mumbai or in Delhi… I see it as a poverty of philosophy versus my scapegoating by discriminating against the peoples of a locality. I can just as easily make ridiculous comment and say I’m EXTRA careful in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem, Lower East Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Barrio or as an Indian man – however these area’s are just as safe and yet dangerous as being in Times Square or in a local suburb of New York, London or Delhi. If your status quo is geographically determined – you are no different then the REACTIONARY masses, you are simply reacting to your environment versus creating it. As such if we complain about one place, lets be honest – we can complain about all… Not downplaying anything – I understand the very real dangers of the streets of Delhi in as much I do of the suburbs and every other place – as I understand how dangerous reactionary people are both to themselves and I… I am the same person whether I am in front of a classroom full of PhD’s, Dr’s, Lawyers, or convicted felons as I have learned to stop categorizing – I see each man and woman in these given examples for who they are and I always have my safety in mind – no pretenses of exaggerated fear or false sense of insecurity. I am comfortable with who I am, and I am safe everywhere as long as I am firm on my own square.

  7. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com January 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    I’m going backpacking in India from March to April. The news about the gang rape did not dampen my enthusiasm to travel there, but I’ll be sure to take extra precaution.
    Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—The Spiral Staircase at the Vatican MuseumMy Profile

  8. Gurmukh January 15, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Superb piece, Mariellen.

  9. Satu January 15, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I lived in India for more than 3 years and first things first: I love India and will keep returning BUT I’ve had a lot of experience of sexual harassment: I have been followed, groped, had a man trying to force his way into my home… I always dress very conservatively and I also know how to behave in India. Most situations were uncomfortable and annoying, not necessarily dangerous, and I soon learned to shout, hit, kick, or scream for help, which was always available.
    On one occasion, however, it all turned pretty bad: I was in Srinagar (Kashmir) with my boyfriend, who was walking right next to me, it was 11 am on a bright sunny morning, we were walking down a busy shopping street, I was wearing a loose hoodie that covered my upper body and my arms, and loose jeans that covered my lower body, and sunglasses, and a (fake) wedding ring, and like I said my partner was right next to me — yet groups of men in all age groups (young men, young boys, old men, middle-aged men) kept attacking me, groping, coming right to my face and saying some stupid crap they’ve probably learned in some very bad (porn) movie — my boyfriend had to physically defend me and several guys got their asses kicked that day. Interestingly, when confronted, those crowds of “men” turned into pathetic boys hiding behind each others’ backs: “it wasn’t me”, “I didn’t do it, my friend did it”… so after that I didn’t go out in Srinagar at all anymore, and I hid on the houseboat instead. It’s a shame since I hear Srinagar is beautiful and I also met some truly beautiful people in Kashmir.
    Sexual harassment and sexual violence are huge problems in India, this gang rape is the tip of the iceberg. Maybe, maybe this is the beginning of a change. India has a long way to go in terms of women’s rights.
    HOWEVER… I will go back to India and I would not discourage anyone from travelling there. I will also travel there alone, like I have done countless of times, and I know I will have fantastic experiences, like I have had so many times: the Indian hospitality being one of them! But do your research before visiting India, or any country. I read that piece the British woman wrote… and this bit shocks me: “We weren’t warned that travelling without a man in India is an invitation for unwanted advances.” How is it possible they did not read about “eve-teasing” when every single guidebook to India has devoted pages to warning women about sexual harassment and giving safety tips? Who in their right mind would go and sit next to a rickshaw driver on the front seat? And how was it possible that they were locked into a flat during the day so they could not go out and explore, but going out to a karaoke bar at night was ok? I don’t think I’ve ever been to any kind of a bar in India in all my 3,5 years there.
    Sorry for the long comment. I have been thinking of posting about this on my blog, but I’m not really sure what to say that has not been said before… thanks for this great post Mariellen. I hope women will keep travelling to India, it is a beautiful country.
    Satu recently posted..Visiting the Irpu Falls in Coorg, IndiaMy Profile

    • Vasu January 17, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Satu,

      Dear lovely Finnish beauty,

      Oh dear, dear, dear, I just read your post. I am so sincerely sorry about your horrific experience in Kashmir. Such things should “never” happen to any woman ever anywhere in the world! I always hear of such awful things happening to women in Muslim countries like Egypt or Jordan or North Africa or the gulf but India ? It is too hard to fathom that my people could be so barbaric.

      Whenever I hear about such awful incidents in India, it just makes me want to “resign” in disgust from official membership in the Indian male race, if such a thing were to be possible !

      Oh, I don’t know , I wish I could reach out in cyber space and give you a warm hug, perhaps treat you and your boyfriend to a kinder, gentler, sweeter side of Indian civilization?? What India needs is a second revolution, a second revolution for women’s rights along the lines of what happened in the 1960s with the feminist movements in America and the west.

      When I took my former Canadian girlfriend to India we were in a group of 8, four couples all on a yoga and tourist trip. We men in the group ( 2 Indians, a Canadian and an american) were very cautious and protective of the women, all westerners from Canada or America and apart from a few minor annoying incidents , we were left alone.

      I gather from your website, you were in Pattabhi Joi’s ashram in Mysore? I was there in 2004! Great guy ! He died recently. All of us rented bicycles and biked around Mysore without any hassles! So, is that famous Dosa place near Pattabhi Joi’s ashram ( Tiffin room??) still around? Those Dosas are the best, I have ever had!

      I have a few friends from Finland here in america, Teija and Elena . Both of them traveled to India. I tend to hang out with western Indophiles for some reason. You Finns are cool people !! I love Terva and Aqua Veet, in moderation of course! 😉

      Anyway, a warm cyber-hug to you, Finnish beauty and hope you never ever experience what you did in India or elsewhere. it is just awful that a land like India that worships a million or more celestial Goddesses can’t seem to know how to treat the earth-bound Goddesses with dignity and respect.

      Anyway, thanks to the discovery of Mariellen’s wonderful blog, I have discovered two new Goddesses, Mariellen and Satu!

      Anyway, a toast in Finnish

      Kippis

  10. Leigh January 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Having not been to India yet, I can’t say anything about travels there. I can, though, say, that no country can be judged by a major news story. Or even 4 major news stories.

    Were that the case, one would think the US is a place where you’re going to be gunned down by ranging groups of men carrying automatic weapons.

    Both events are horrible beyond measure. Both point are a call for both the US and India to address social issues on a deep level. Both countries need to move toward change.

    As far as women traveling. Different social norms. Different issues. But I’d assume for each, women need to take reasonable safety precautions based on the experiences of those who have traveled in each country or city, and fear is no way to plan a trip.
    Leigh recently posted..The best of the best: 30 breathtaking books to read in 2013My Profile

  11. Vasu January 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Hi Mariellen,

    Greetings Canadian beauty !

    Wow, I stumbled onto your blog accidentally and am absolutely delighted by your blog. You sound like a wonderful human being ! I am just over-awed by your blog and writing style. You seem to have tremendous depth, a wonderful panglossian soul with immense wisdom in a dazzling, radiant state of refulgence !

    I am currently dating a Canadian woman of English ancestry. I seem to attract them a whole lot more than say “boring” american women having had several Canadian girlfriends! Haha ! In fact, in 2004 , I took my then Canadian girlfriend to India, first time for her in a non-white country. She just fell madly in love with India, converted to Hinduism dumped me for a “real” Indian who practices Hinduism since I am an agnostic. I live in the US, a socially functional over-educated nerd, one might say.

    Of course, as an Indian man, I sort of cringed at all the negative racial stereotypes thrown around by some of the writers above especially after the horrific rape and murder of a 25 year old student in Delhi. But, I guess Indian men deserve the negative stereotype or at least the non-westernized ones in India.

    As an Indian man, the way women are treated in India makes me want to hang my head in shame. i don’t think India can ever realize its true potential of being a world leader without according dignity, respect and equality to women. Having spent a significant chunk of my life in the west and having known strong, intelligent western women in my personal life, I hope India can evolve soon into the 21st century instead of being stuck in the 9th century particularly with respect to women’s rights!

    Anyway, now I know where to look for some depth and wisdom.

    Cheers
    Indian guy in america

  12. sam January 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    How about the rape and loot done by British colonoliasts ?

    Where are the Nuremberg like trials for all the atrocities done and millions of people they killed ?

    Where is justice when they still proud of keeping their loot ?

    British and other Europeans introduced atrocities and debased morals.

    Many countries are just recovering and regaining their moral values after this.

    • Vasu January 17, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Sam ,

      You can’t undo the past. So, India has to deal with the future. Like any other civilization or country , Indians have to deal with the present and the future. One can’t blame the appalling lack of dignity and human/women’s rights in India on the British? That is silly.

      In fact, I agree that Britain looted India but they also gave India a functioning civil service, hospitals , schools, roads, transportation, infra-structure, a modern social order, an English speaking, educated class which can compete internationally. They also abolished Sati, child marriage, incarceration of widows and tried to abolish the caste system. There were more good things that came out of the British colonization of India than the Muslim colonization of India.

      Historians claim that as many as 50 million Indians were slaughtered by , rapacious, rampaging muslim hordes from Central Asia and Arabia, temples destroyed, cities burnt to the ground, women enslaved in their harems as concubines. Prior to the muslim conquest of India, Indian women, Hindu and Buddhist were freer , enlightened were allowed to participate in social, religious and civil duties if you go back and read up on medieval and ancient Indian literature. The Muslim conquest of India was devastating not only to Indian civilization but particularly women’s rights.

      If I had a choice, I would rather be colonized by a European than a Muslim, really, anyday??

      • Raja Shah February 12, 2013 at 2:43 am #

        However genuine your sentiments may be it misrepresents history and as such perhaps it would benefit you to site your information — allowing one as myself to discredit the scholarship versus solely your misunderstandings. Indeed the British monetized many parts of rural India but in no way did it make it more competitive — who owned the majority of the resources in post colonial India despite its efforts with Nehru’s ideas of Fabian Socialism. To even fathom imperialism or colonialism benefits the oppressed/colonized just shows lack of logic — there is no rational argument to that which is irrational. However many scholars have asserted the such (which you propel as your own understandings), but these scholars who asserted the such only asserted their own condition of being colonized and are now themselves the subject matter of emerging studies. It takes a particular genius to coin their current times, however the rest of us who study it scientifically need a certain amount of time pass before we can determine what really happened and the results of the such. As far as the Muslim conquests, indeed they were horrid and yet some created platforms for knowledge to flow in both directions. As the beauties of Akbar’s courts flood Muslim scholarship – I see it as the prison administrators learning from its inmates – a ruler studies his subjects to know how to best rule. Hinduism as we know it is a confluence of vedic traditions, Imams and German Indologists (original thought) – as you mention sati, or the adding in of the caste system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Indian_caste_system#British_rule) So yes – one can blame the British in as much one can blame the Muslims or in as much blame the sky! Again it goes into lack of self awareness of all, not some. To imagine the state of women is better anywhere — is to mislead the reader to think that a woman or for that matter a man as well has found more acceptable conditions else where – which is false. To embrace one’s mental slavery (lack of self awareness) is not a better condition but is just a condition. After decades in public advocacy I realized to stop seeing it as the oppressor/oppressed but rather as a calling for my own revolution. Not just to focus on social awareness, but self awareness. As I find greater clarity, my outer expression becomes a model for others. My awareness allows me freedom from all (not a psuedo-freedom while dependent on a system), which allows me to realize the irrelevancy of these conversations or focus solely on the oppressed – as the oppressor is inflicted as well with a lack of self awareness (slaves ruling slaves versus anyone owning themselves). I see where your coming from and understand that which you understand — I am just presenting my understandings by showing you the ledge of this conversation: knowledge. Take Care.

  13. matheikal January 17, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    What India needs is a change of leadership. A change of vision. A change of even religion. A paradigm shift.

  14. Mariellen Ward January 17, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone. I especially appreciate the long and thoughtful comments by Erin, Satu, Leigh and Vasu. Your comments alone would make a good blog post. It is obvious this incident has stirred up feelings; hopefully it will lead to change
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..My top tips for women travelling in IndiaMy Profile

  15. Mariellen Ward January 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Sam, I appreciate your comment; it is true that India is probably still recovering from 250 years of British occupation. And there were other previous conquerors and occupiers in India too, many who were truly bloodthirsty. I think, though, we have to deal with the world the way it is now. Not sure your comment is pertinent to this conversation or issue.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..Is India safe for women travellers?My Profile

  16. Shalu Sharma January 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    The answer is yes and no. Although India is a safe nation but one just cannot be too careful in India. The statistics of crime against women says that its not safe at all. I would agree with it. But as far as women travellers are concerned, they need to take extra precautions as well to keep themselves safe. Great article.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Be careful of rape in India – tips for female travellers and demand for justiceMy Profile

  17. Shailesh Jangra January 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    I think it’s up to you how you treat yourself and how you choose your outing time and manage yourself. A women can secure herself if she take care of some important things like dress, surroundings, her circle etc. India is very much safe and you can not blame any country. Your safety is in your hands only. Try to avoid un-favourable situations and than every place is safe for you.
    Shailesh Jangra recently posted..Rock GardenMy Profile

  18. Cristina January 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    I haven’t been to India yet, but this is an important conversation to have. Having worked in news journalism for years, I must agree the media does enjoy sensationalizing situations like these and instilling a lot of unnecessary fear. It makes me angry. It is important to shed light on such an issue and raise much needed awareness but the way the media approaches these events means audiences don’t see the other more positive side of a place like India. It certainly doesn’t keep me from wanting to experience this country so badly!

    I must say, Mariellen you look fantastic in the traditional Indian attire.
    Cristina recently posted..There is More to Germans than their WienersMy Profile

  19. Gaurav Bhatnagar February 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    Hi. You truly said that media has portrayed it in a different light. If I understand correctly the world would have gotten the image of a barbaric India. But the brutality if what happened is not undeniable as well. There is a lot of work going on at the ground level to transform everything. Unfortunately media does not see enough meat in that news. I am glad you had a wonderful time here… Namaste. 🙂

  20. Raja Shah February 12, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    I love it when I see people thinking and talking (wisdom shared), albeit an unsavory topic. Violence against women is a subcategory of violence itself. Is it not hypocritical to embody violence in some parts of our lives but yet condemn others for their asserted violence? However much there is a pretense for us to dislike violence we are at the same time conditioned to finding it necessary – amazing tool to confuse people and have long lives of self inflicted sub conscious (guiltiness). As Gandhi asserted in his Autobiography, it was within his understandings that one cannot embody a violent diet, profession, habits and yet profess non-violence. As he further states that non-violence isn’t just the mere absence of violence but rather embedded in self awareness that affords us righteous thoughts and actions. Its like a cats discussing dogs all the while hunting mice. I do not judge this as I see it in every facet of our society and in every topic matter, everyone scapegoats everything. I find – as Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau and the great many other civilized thinkers who are ignored daily – that it our awareness of social issues that should create an inquiry in to our own selves – our cumulative thinking and subsequent actions. As it us as individuals that create the we, us, the locality, the national and ultimately humanity. There is no them – there is no others ever, its just me – us – all of us… Figure out yourself and through living a constant state of refinement we find balance and as such outwardly express the equality we find within ourselves. It is here all will be safe to travel freely, having security – as a result of the peace we propel and propagate. If you feel unsafe, this is just an expression of your own insecurity. I am at peace with myself, so my peace is self relevant versus determined by my environment. If you feel unsafe with the idea of traveling – then you probably are. If you find your safe – then you probably are as well. If you are self aware and understand how you interact with your environment and as such plan accordingly — there is no need to ask or for this forum as you should already know your going to a post colonial state with a high level of financial poverty that has a high volume of diverse personalities – both violent and non-violent.

  21. ankita patel February 19, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    we should strive hard to bring women at the up most position in the socicty

  22. Jennifer Hicks February 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this – I wouldn’t want anyone to be discouraged or frightened to travel in India and miss the magic of it all!

    I’m leaving for my 3rd trip to India next week. I have always felt confident and never in danger in India when traveling solo. Taking all the necessary precautions has always served me well.

  23. Natalie March 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    I have been to India twice: Once as an 18 year old who travelled by herself from North to South, and more recently as a 25 year old who went back with her bf, brother, sister and father. I agree that India can be quite different to australia in terms of men at times being inappropriate. however, even when I was travelling alone I never felt in anyway scared. I think the main message I can give people is always stay in public places, where there are lots of people around (and in India that isn’t hard to do – trust me!). The most guys can do to you in these situations is stare, or pretend to walk past and ‘bump’ you while they have a grope. Having said that however, I really found it to be minimal, and what takes over when you are there is not fear but rather fascination at this amazing, beautiful culture. 99% of the time the people, including the men, are nothing but hospitable and endearing to the tourists visiting their nation, and I do believe that if you go there constantly scared or thinking the worst of people, that you will actually miss out on the thing that makes India so amazing: their warmth and their openness (something which Western countries often lack). I love the way people offer you their food on trains, or strangers sit pretty much on each others laps on a bus and end up chatting the whole way. Go to India with an open mind and open heart, but also just make sure you are responsible and sensible in what you do. If I could do it as an 18 year old female who regularly went out to clubs and had lots of fun, you guys can do it as mature women! Enjoy 🙂
    Natalie recently posted..What’s the story? Is travel in India safe?My Profile

  24. Mishita July 25, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    It’s great to see your experiences in India, however, being an Indian girl and living in India myself I have had my share of eve teasing on three separate occasions and also molestation on one occasion. And this was in a big city. There is a gender problem in India. I don’t see men being teased or molested. It is always the women. It is indeed sad that every girl/woman in India has been eve teased or molested at some point by useless men. Don’t the Indian men need to take some responsibility for this? Just because they are not the ones getting teased or molested are they just supposed to say nothing? Half of the things in the country run on blind faith rather than education. And it was extremely sad to see the reaction of the so called leader /spiritual leaders talking about women’s clothing, Indian item songs etc. When are male item songs you don’t see women teasing or molesting men? And it’s not as if the Indian men are covered from top to bottom. If the Indian woman can behave responsibly why can’t the Indian man?? Why blame women’s clothing, Item songs and everything else except themselves for the problem?

  25. Cox and Kings November 7, 2013 at 6:29 am #

    Countries are not bad or good. India is still a developing country and majority people needs gender sensitivity training to learn how o deal with women. India is still safer than most countries

  26. Ankit May 2, 2016 at 4:36 am #

    I would say that India is generally a safe country and people are open and willing to help. However, its a big and diverse country which means you are likely to encounter people of all kinds here. This means that the odds of encountering at least one slime-ball also are higher. Keep that in mind, whether you are an Indian or just travelling across India, for a brief while.

    Also, you should keep the emergency numbers handy while you are travelling in India.
    100 – Police control room
    1091 – Women help line (works across India)
    181 – Women help line ( Supposed to work across India)
    108 – Emergency help line
    103 – Women safety helpline (Mumbai only)

    The government of India is coming with a panic button in all phones bought in India post January 2017. If you are in trouble in India, dial 112 post January 2017. Otherwise you can dial the emergency numbers above to get connected to the police control room. However, emergency numbers doesn’t always work in India because of different states, different rules etc.
    It is advised that you keep an emergency app like ruly ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ruly.com.rulypro ) handy and feed in 3 emergency contacts. What it does it that it connects you to the nearest police station, by passing the control room, and you can seek help straight away. It also sends an alert with your location and address to your emergency contacts. They have 11,000 police stations covered out of the total 15,000 big police stations in India. You just have to press the power button twice to activate it.

    Your nearest police station is usually best equipped and most likely to help you. So knowing its phone number would help. Indians also need to reach out more to the police to seek help. This results in a positive virtuous cycle where the more help you seek, the more policemen are needed, the more policemen are needed, the more they are hired, the police to civilian ratio goes up and gradually the police becomes more effective

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