To be honest, India ranked last place on my list of countries to visit and the list was long enough not ever have to go there.
But as with many things in life, life will take you where you have to be regardless of your own set of wish-lists.
Just before leaving, newspapers were screaming out loud about another foreign female traveller being raped. So before leaving instead of going to the pharmacy to buy all the SOS medicines “needed”… I googled for hours how NOT to get raped as a female solo travelling which I am. Every 22 minutes there is a woman in India being raped (and this is only the official number reported by the Indian government). Even liberal political female figures do not always protay the right message to make it any better.
I know that, initially, these phrases will cost me some Indian readers and for sure won’t do me any good as I admit with shame: I am totally pre-guidiced. I had not even set a foot in India and I was already doing a whole movie in my head.
I can rationally come up with a full list of arguments why in other countries that I visited many times I would have more chance of being raped. I am normally so allergic to people’s ignorance. So being faced with my own one, I don’t understand what got into me. So lets agree, bear with me just for some more days and judge me later….
Anyhow, I think it is wise for any solo female traveller to, at least, have a glimpse on some of considerations I found on the net. Men just have a look it too, your behaviour with a woman, could help them to be safe as well.
Some may find the recommendations here below a bit illogical, not to say female submissive, but logics and customs in India are simply different from Western ones. But this is not a forum on the so called right or wrong. Let’s give it a break, we are there as visitors of their country so I plan to behave like a good guest.
OK here we go, your top 5 solo female traveller prep list:
- Wear a ring: Your first absolute MUST HAVE accessory for this Season is the ring!. Being married, with a man (just for this occasion if you normally more into women) is one of the most sacred things in India and will make you a “good” girl in their eyes.
- Wear local clothes. If you can beat them join them. Forget your own “good gal but still amish cool cover up” clothes. Whereas women in India might show part of their belly, it is for instance a total No-No to wear a legging ( even if it is an Indian one) with a long sleeves t-shirt that covers more skin than theirs. Just buy their clothes and copy how girls wear their clothes. It is totally well seen if you are adapt, it is a sign of respect. I know some of you would feel the urge like making a Pro Femen move, change- the-indian-man’s mind statement and show them a western female free expression lesson and ignore it all. But for my journey I just wanted to get pregnant from my husband and not by somebody else. I keep this battle for an other time.
- Or Western ones with extra features. If you really don’t want to go Indian style and still be on the safe side… just buy a “regular” pair of jeans with extra indian Anti rape features that only require a hit on the button to be safe. Currently on sale: http://nypost.com/2014/06/26/rapes-in-india-so-rampant-women-invent-anti-rape-jeans.
- Ignoring is the best option. Different If ever being approached by a man for a chat, just ignore. It is not impolite and I don’t mean that you have to look at the floor and be submissive. Just don’t react. Also a simply “hi” could for some mean “hi….and more”. If ever it gets too much, a firm ‘ No’ will be sufficient. For information ask Indian women rather than men.
- Check dress code at destination. Goa is much more used to Western habits whereas Kerala even with lots of tourist is not. Even between big modern cities, Delhi is different from Mumbai. The Ayurvedic clinic where I went to, was based in Hyderabad. A big city with 7 millions inhabitants of which 50% Islamic. This left me puzzled: Should I go Hindu or Islamic style….and then for the record: HOW Islamic should I go?
Don’t get me wrong. I am just being cautious. It is not that all dangerous for solo female travellers in India . I hope in fact completely the opposite. But besides that, I believe there is clearly space for improvement regarding female rights as the below Indian film truly states on youtube.
Rape it is my (female) fault: