Almost everyone I know that loves to travel has India on the list of places they must visit. I count myself among that group. I would love to photograph the Taj Mahl, run the Mumbi Marathon or visit Jaisalmer Fort, the walled city.
After watching an episode of Globe Trekker where the host (Zay Harding I think) was talking about how the India Railways had added special “Women Only” train cars in an effort to reduce the rate of sexual assault on trains, I really had to wonder if I really wanted to go. Fast forward a few months and I had a chat with my friend who writes the blog Diplomom.com and I learned that the situation is much worse than I thought.
After the Globe Trekker episode I was figuring it was just a problem of opportunity (close proximity and no security) on the trains. Since then and thanks to Diplomom, I have learned this sexual assault against women are a problem across India. By some estimate 245,000 women are raped in India every year. Of course just like in the rest of the world most of these crimes go unreported.
Some people blame the high rate of rape in India on the fact that there are more males than females in the population. While that is true in numbers, I would say that other countries across the world have the same population issue but the instances of rape are nowhere near as high. I would venture to say that this is an issue that begins with the Indian caste system. There is an expression in India that “bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbor’s plant.” India places women lower than men and when any society starts view a race or a gender or such as lesser than any other group it opens the door for that group to be abused and ignored. This is compounded when a countries political leadership contribute to these issues. Samajwadi Party chief Abu Azmi said that girls wearing western style clothes attracted molesters like sugar attracted ants (http://www.goanobserver.in/2017/01/07/sugar-will-attract-ants/). Statement like this do nothing to prevent and may even encourage molestation and rape.
Am sure that most tourist are insulated from things like this. I am sure that if this were to happen to a tourist, in a tourist area and be reported it would make the papers and the police would be all over it. Tourism is big business in India and they want that to continue. However, I have read accounts of victims reporting rapes after they got home, but I am not sure those investigations really have the effort put behind them.
What I am now wrestling with do I still want to go to India. I love the food and would love to see the sights. I am not sure I want to contribute what I would spend in a country that as a whole has such disrespect for women. Come on India, get your act together and learn to respect women, investigate and prosecute rape. I mean all rapes, just not the ones that make the headlines.
Incidents of rape involving very young victims have scarred the national capital. Data from the National Crime Record Bureau shows that in 2014, more than a third of female rape victims were minors. GRAPHIC Credit: Times of India (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Shameful/articleshow/49479120.cms)