India: Assaults on Tourist Ladies

tourists   By Sajjad Shaukat

In the recent years, reports came to the limelight about involvement of Indian Amry’s high and low-ranking officials in various scandals of sexual harassment and raping women. But such abuses have enveloped the tourist ladies, assaulted by Indian civilians.

Every one realises that rape against women is a shameless act of immorality in which anti-social elements driven by their animal instinct demonstrate male chauvinism to molest women. The trend has shifted to target and molest the foreign women who come to India for sight-seeing and enjoying the beauty of nature as tourists. The victims are isolated, subjected to collective molestation and finally left at deserted places after looting their money and seising their belongings.

In a number of rape cases, targeting foreign women have come to the surface in India this years. In March 2013, a 38 year old Swiss woman was gang-raped in a forest near Datia town by six Indians. In January 2013 a South Korean student was drugged and raped by the son of owner of the hotel where she was staying.

Regrettably, a British holidaymaker in the northern city of Agra suffered a leg injury when she jumped out of the hotel window to save her honour, as two men entered her hotel room with the intent to molest her. In February 2013, a Chinese woman working in Gurgaon, was raped by an Indian acquaintance. In May 31, 2013, a young Irish woman was raped by a man in a house in Kalighat area. The 21 years old young girl came into with acquaintance, an Indian native named Sujay Mitra in the city of Kolkata where she was celebrating her birthday.

In a notorious case, five years ago, 15-year old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling was raped and left to die on a beach in the tourist resort of Goa.

In another shameful case, in June 3, 2013, a US national was gang-raped by three men in a truck in Manali. The woman was attacked, after she accepted a lift by three men in a truck. Police said the men drove the woman to a secluded spot where they raped her and robbed her.

Taking cognisance of sexual assaults on the tourist ladies, British and Swiss governments have already issued instructions to women tourists to refrain from going to India due to growing risks of insensitivity and insecurity by the Indian officials who openly plead that there was no need to panic as foreigners are victims of such acts of crime all over the world and that India was no exception.

In this regard, The New York wrote in June 10, 2013, “Visits to India by female tourists dropped 35 percent in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year. That three-month period came after the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December…every day women face the harassment and intimidation in India.” It elaborated, “Although the per capita rate of rapes reported to the police in India is below, as many sexual attacks go unreported and that the actual number is far higher…sexual offense law in March that imposes stronger penalties for violence against women and criminalizes actions. But attacks on women have continued with an alarming regularity. While Indian women are most often the targets, foreign tourists have been victims as well.”

Sumit Galhotra, a journalist who specialises in human rights in South Asia, said that he has noticed, “While some rape cases in India have received widespread coverage in the local media, but others have not, particularly rape cases in rural India, which are routinely ignored in the press…despite the pervasiveness of India’s rape problem, only a few cases get international headlines.”

In fact, the fast-track court system in India is still not fast enough. In this respect, the Indian judicial system moves at a glacial pace, because the prosecution’s primary focus has, instead, been on barring foreign journalists from proceedings. People are surprised that this is how fast-track courts in India function or as to how a typical court in the country functions.

Especially, the deadly gang-rape of the 30-year-old woman in December, 2012 was highlighted. She picked three men out of a lineup, and the accused were presented before a magistrate and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Following this case including other ones, Indian government passed a law increasing prison terms for rapists and calling for the death penalty in cases of rape. But despite it, sexual violence and rape cases have continued in India.

Rise of sexual harassment and rape events has been badly affecting Indian tourist industry and income. India can ill afford to lose the foreign currency which tourists inject into the economy. According to official figures, economic growth has slipped to 5 percent in 2012 from more than 9 percent annually in 2010, and the government needs foreign currency to offset huge payments for imported oil and coal, which cannot be paid in rupees.

A total of 6.4 million foreign tourists traveled to India last year—a smaller number than in some much smaller countries. But such visitors make an essential contribution to the country’s flagging economy.

Tourism over all accounts for 6 percent of India’s gross domestic product and is responsible for about 10 percent of organised employment in the country, or some 20 million jobs. Foreign tourism specifically contributes about $18 billion, or approximately 20 percent of India’s current account deficit.

However, international media must pay a greater attention regarding growing evil of rape against women tourists in India, denouncing it forcefully and uncovering negligence of Indian police and law-enforcing agencies. Otherwise rapist gangs will remain totally insensitive towards foreign women visiting their country. Media must also caution the foreign tourist ladies to avoid visiting India, as foolproof security arrangements to save their honour are not available in the country, while the attitude of police and law-enforcing agencies is also totally indifferent.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs


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