Rape cases casting a bad spell on Indian tourism


(eTN) – India’s tourism industry is still reeling from reports of successive rape cases on “at least” seven foreign women which occurred in January, according to the country’s tourism ministry.

The US and British governments have warned women planning to go on an “Indian summer” trip or holiday on the Indian sub-continent “eye-teasing” by amorous Indian males may lead to physical harassment, even being raped in some cases.

Several of the attacks were reported in Rajasthan, the jewel of Indian tourism renowned for its palaces and luxurious train rides.

Local newswires reported that an American national was molested in Pushkar, while a British journalist claimed she was raped in Udaipur, both in Rajasthan state before the Christmas period. Another French/Swiss woman also reported to police earlier claiming she was raped while visiting Pushkar. And, two returning Indian women nationals (NRI) reported to police they were raped while in Mumbai, India’s financial capital.

“The reports could deter potential visitors to the country,” said a tourism ministry spokesman who was quoted by Indian news wires. “We have asked states to report to us what happened in these incidents.”

Despite the advice given by travel guidebooks advising women traveling to the country should wear “loose, long clothes” to avoid unwelcome attention, it does not mask the fact crimes against women in the country have been increasing, according to statistics from the country’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

According to official statistics, Madya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases.”Seventeen percent of the total of 34,175 reported in 2005 and 36,617 reported in 2006 took place in Madhya Pradesh.”

India’s most decorated woman police officer, Kiran Bedi, told a conference on violence against women that the loss of ethics and values was the root cause of escalating cases of violence against women.

Indian women also face torture meted out by husbands and relatives, connected to its “dowry” practice despite it now punishable under Indian law.

Indian tourism reports an average of 4 million foreign visitors yearly.