India – 2018

India ranks number five on the Eight Most Dangerous Countries for Women Travelers due to elevated rates of crime, terrorism, rapes, and sexual assaults. You may long to see the Taj Mahal or participate in a meditation retreat in the northern area, but India is dangerous for its own women and women travelers. Whether it’s because of more crime or improvements in crime reporting, the number of crimes have spiked.  In fact, the crime rate may be higher than it appears because suppressing crimes is an exalted art form practiced as a matter of reflex in police stations. Whether crime data has been collected accurately or not, crime is high in India, and the police may not take you seriously if you report one.

Though India is a highly touristed country and many people likely return unharmed, when we look at data and indices, India deserves to be on this list and it has been included on our Most Dangerous lists in several previous years. It earns its place due to the high number of rapes and sexual assaults on its native women and women travelers, its toxic air pollution and its extreme poverty that causes tourists, particularly women, to be besieged by beggars and hustlers. According to the Financial Express, A 2017 report by Global Peace Index had claimed India to be the fourth most dangerous country for women travelers. Gender Vulnerability Index 2017 compiled by Ministry of Women and Child Development found Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand to be the bottom four in terms of safety.

If you consider the status of women in the countries you choose to visit, India is worrisome. According to Quartz Media, India is leaving its women behind. The country ranked a lowly 108 out of 144 in the global gender gap report released by the World Economic Forum, a decrease from the prior year.

Risks

In general, exercise a high degree of caution due to crime, civil unrest, terrorism, traffic accidents, frequent rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. And from October through February, air pollution can reach hazardous levels, impacting not only breathing, but also flight delays and accidents. Even when on group tours, take care of your own personal safety.

According to Indian authorities rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations. Also, be alert for scams; pick pocketing and other standard large city crime.

Government Alerts

The Australian government, Canadian government and US State Department have all issued warnings regarding travel to India.

All three governments concur that terrorism is widespread across the country at all times, including locations frequented by tourists, such as religious sites, markets and shopping malls, transportation hubs, government facilities, and festivals.

Travel within India has higher risks in certain areas than others.

  • Reconsider travel to: North-eastern states (Assam (except Guwahati), Nagaland and Manipur) and Chhattisgarh and the border areas of neighboring states; and the cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
  • Avoid all travel to:
  • The states of Jammu and Kashmir (except Ladakh region, Jammu and Srinagar) and India-Pakistan border (except Atari crossing).
  • East Central and Southern India areas are also categorized as high risk regions

Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Zika is a risk in India. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Therefore, pregnant women should not travel to India. Partners of pregnant women and couples planning pregnancy should know the possible risks to pregnancy and take preventive steps (more information).

If you want to go to India  

Go to Rishikesh, and Pune (pronounced Poonah) which are famous for their Ashrams and meditation centers. Also, consider visiting Kolkata (formerly formerly Calcutta), Madurai, and Tiruchirappalli which have lower rates of reported rapes. As you develop your travel plan, check the rates of crimes against women for the cities that you think you may want to visit.

Female tourists may reduce their risk by traveling with a companion or going on a group tour. India is a conservative country, so pay attention to what the local women wear. If they cover their heads, arms, and legs; you may receive less unwanted attention if you follow their style. Travel with a scarf in the event you need one. If you are a crime victim, call your country’s embassy for help.

Conclusion:  Perhaps you are thinking it would be better to go where a woman can travel freely and safely, if so, please refer to our 10 Safest Countries for Women Travelers, Best Countries in Africa, Best Places in Oceania, Best Countries in South America, and Best and Worst of North America.

Photo credit: Treat them better. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi) via Quartz Media

Photo: Treat them better

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