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Propositions, unwelcome attention and more: US, UK advisories warn women travellers in Delhi

While most countries list elaborate instructions for their citizens travelling to India, United Kingdom is particularly specific in its advisory.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | New Delhi | Published: June 13, 2016 6:31:23 am
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According to the World Bank, over 76 lakh foreign tourists visit India every year. According to government data, the highest number of foreign travellers to India come from the United States, followed by United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Canada and Australia.

While most countries list elaborate instructions for their citizens travelling to India, United Kingdom is particularly specific in its advisory. The High Commission website states, under its Foreign Travel Advice (India), “Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk.”

The website lists incidents of violence against British women in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and states, “women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.”

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In a separate page, the High Commission provides travel tips for women travellers in India. This page asks travellers to “think about how your clothing will fit in with local customs” and see what local women are wearing. It advises women to “wear a wedding ring (even if you don’t normally) to help avoid harassment.” It also states that if citizens are travelling alone, they may attract unwelcome attention and “unwelcome propositions or remarks.” In such situations, the advisory suggests that “it is usually best to ignore them” and “act confidently.”

The US, on the other hand, advises its citizens in India to register for emergency messages and travel alerts.

The US also gives fair warning to its citizens against crimes in India — including theft of personal property, fraud and sexual assault — and advises women to “observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions, restricting evening entertainment to well-known venues, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of the day.”

The embassy has 24-hour emergency response in place but the website also lists emergency numbers in India as well as numbers for doctors and lawyers for an
emergency.

Canada advises its citizens to “use any means necessary to draw attention to the situation, such as shouting for help in the local language or activating a personal security alarm that emits a piercing sound. It is advisable to learn some emergency words or phrases in the local language before you travel.” It also asks citizens to contact the local authorities and file a police report immediately in the event of an emergency.

While the German embassy lists an emergency contact for its citizens in India, the French embassy sends out emails to travellers in case of emergencies such as an attack or a natural disaster.

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