HomeHoroscopeDo Foreign Travellers Feel Safe In India? In Conversation With A Globetrotter...

Do Foreign Travellers Feel Safe In India? In Conversation With A Globetrotter…


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As Women’s Day is approaching and we are gearing up to celebrate women, a disheartening incident, sadly not the first of its kind, is making waves not just in India but also grabbing international attention. A 28-year-old Spanish-Brazilian woman traveling with her husband was gang-raped by seven people in Dumka, Jharkhand. It’s an ironic twist that’s impossible to overlook. It would be wrong to claim that such incidents take place only in India but it’s fair to say that a nation that worships female gods and takes immense pride in how it treats it women, falls short in preserving a woman’s dignity.

Soon after, social media was flooded with messages from women travelers worldwide sharing their harrowing experiences during trips to India.

We had an exclusive chat with Mariellen Ward, a Canadian travel writer and blogger who shares her adventures in India on her website. Addressing the heartbreaking incident of the Spanish girl’s assault, she expressed deep shock, saying, “It’s a nightmare for every woman and possibly every man who cares for their loved ones. I can’t wrap my head around it. Sometimes, humanity just leaves you disheartened. I know this awful event will unfairly paint India in a negative light, despite millions of tourists traveling there without any issues. It’s like a dark cloud hanging over. I honestly don’t know what to say.”

Her first trip to India…

When I first came to India in 2005, I researched and planned for about 11 months before departing Canada. This was pre-social media, and almost pre-Internet! So, I relied on just a few resources such as the JourneyWoman website and the Lonely Planet guidebook. Back then, the concerns about travel in India were more about how daunting it was, how overwhelming, and mind-boggling. My brother was concerned I would get sick or get into an accident. There weren’t many concerns about my safety as a woman, beyond the usual. Concerns about women’s safety in India shot up after the Delhi Gang Rape in 2013, and they have been in the spotlight ever since. It’s now the first thing women are concerned about.

Facing harassment in India…

Women face harassment everywhere, and I have faced it in most countries where I have lived or travelled. I have been groped once (in Old Delhi), followed a few times (Mumbai and Ahmedabad), harassed for a “photo please ma’am” dozens of times, and stared at on a daily basis. There have been a lot of incidents over the 8 or more years I have been in the country; most are the kind of incidents women learn to take in stride.

When visiting India, be careful but not overly worried. Stay open-minded, but don’t be too trusting. India is quite different from vacation spots like the Caribbean or Greece—it’s vast, diverse, traditional, and ancient. First-timers often feel overwhelmed, experiencing what’s known as culture shock. Learning about the culture beforehand can help.

If you’re from a Western country like Canada or the U.S., remember that things won’t be the same in India. It’s a traditional society undergoing significant changes. Taking precautions is smart: wear loose and modest clothes, avoid being overly friendly with unknown men, and be cautious at night. This advice is especially crucial for women traveling in India or any challenging destination.

Many experienced female travelers in India emphasize the importance of how you carry yourself. Confidence can deter unwanted attention, as perpetrators often target those they see as easy targets. If someone harasses you, either ignore them or firmly tell them to “go.”

Unfortunately, you need to stay vigilant in India, as it’s not always easy to know who to trust. Having local friends or traveling with a reputable company can be very helpful.

Personally, I wear Indian clothes and jewelry, and sometimes I even mention that I’m married to an Indian man living in Delhi. In India, family holds great importance. Being perceived as part of the society and having ties to an Indian family can offer a sense of protection. I feel that my gold Indian ring acts as a shield, creating a sense of security for me.

I always tell women to research India and learn about the best places to visit and stay — places that are frequented by other international travellers. I recommend getting a local SIM card so you stay in contact, wearing modest clothes, and not arriving anywhere in the middle of the night. For women who are nervous to visit India, I suggest a group tour or custom tour, which is the reason I started my custom tour business India for Beginners.

Safe and unsafe places for foreign tourists…

I am not sure if there are any safe places — anything can happen anywhere. I think it’s more important to practice safe travel strategies, such as researching your destination. I recommend states such as Kerala, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand to travellers for example — places that are popular with international tourists.

Railway stations late at night can seem quite unnerving. Sometimes, very large crowds can feel uncomfortable. I don’t like Paharganj in Delhi — or any seedy places that attract people who are into drugs. I avoid those kinds of areas.

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