The short answer is no. And then there is a long answer. Pay attention to my short answer first and only then read the rest. Anyway I wonder if I even need to write a post? There are a variety of posts doing round on the internet now on the same subject. Most of it was written even before the recent Mumbai Gang Rape. And that young girl was not even traveling. She was doing her job. She was not alone.
And yet when I was invited by Suryagarh (a luxury hotel in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan) on one of the Blogger’s Fam Trip we were an all women group. The PR person was a woman. So, clearly Indian women are traveling, writing travel blogs and going about their life. On a list of top 30 Indian Travel Bloggers at least half are women. That still does not make India a safe place for women to travel but if you really wish you still can, with loads of caution, with ‘when in Rome …’ attitude.
First of all many women have complained about sexual harassment in other parts of the world and that has to be true. But in India it is of a different magnitude. It is commonplace and if you are not careful it will happen to you. Here are some random thoughts on the topic. The brain just refuses to process it in any logical way right now. This is in the end just a rant.
10. I will look at what the local women do when I visit a new place. If I do not see any local woman at a place I will get out quickly. If I see kids and women along that sea shore I will continue walking.
9. I avoid crowded places like plague. That is where it will become free for all most of the time. And yet on my first trip abroad to Singapore I boarded a packed metro and everyone tiptoed around me. I now actually consider spending my hard earned money on other nations, which give me greater safety. My personal trips to Nepal and Sri Lanka are a case in point.
8. Not every place is equally unsafe in India. There are safer places but then this is India. However as I have to get up every day and go to work, I will go out and travel too. And countless other Indian women will do the same. I know India is not safe hence I will take a lot of precautions.
7. I was attending a media even in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The director of International Marketing Division (South Asia/West Asia/Africa) Mr. Julkifly Md Said told us, “we welcome solo women travelers to Malaysia.” I am part of a powerful market segment and I will take my custom to those places that make an effort for keeping me safe.
6. In is not only women and travel, the rule of law is weak in every sphere in India.
5. After Delhi Gang Rape in December 2012 I have actually regretted my decision not to immigrate. If my daughter shows any inclination to go abroad when she grows up, she will have all my support.
4. As someone who has been born and brought up in India I am more clued to the local scene. A foreigner will find it more difficult.
3. Religious places and festivals are in no way a guarantee for safety. As a local I will never go to Holi celebrations with unknown people. Holi is trouble in general to all women, Indian or not.
2. I do not encourage conversation with unknown people, more so men, however harmless it may seem.
1. I will take a flight instead of traveling on a night train if I can, I feel safer that way. So I envy all those male bloggers who are die hard Indian Railway fan. I do not view it in the same light.
However India is my country and most of my travel is going to happen here. In spite of all what I wrote, nothing will make me stop traveling. It is this country that needs to change, not I.
Also I agree harassment is common throughout the world. But there have been places where I have felt much more at ease than in my own country. This is problem of mindset as well as general law and order. Why would women be safe when almost nothing else functions in this country as it should?