Female tourists should not wear skirts in India : Tourism Minister

skirtsIndia’s tourism minister has said foreign women should not wear skirts or walk alone at night in the country’s small towns and cities ‘for their own safety’.

Discussing the subject in Agra, Mahesh Sharma said foreign arrivals to India are issued a welcome kit that includes safety advice for women as well as a list of dos and don’ts that seem small, such as they should not venture out alone at night in small places, or wear skirts, and they should take down the vehicle number plate whenever they travel and send it to friends.

The welcome kit that is meant for female travellers was introduced last year, as one of a slue of measures introduced to address declining rates of female tourism after the high profile gang-rape and murder of a Delhi medical student in 2012, and a number of subsequent attacks on female tourists.

The kit asks that visitors find out about local customs and traditions before visiting the small towns and villages. It mirrors the UK Foreign Office advice to women that says ‘respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day.

Ranjana Kumari the director of Delhi-based Centre for Social Research said ‘the minister does not realise the implications of the irresponsible statements he made. She said the remarks reflected the syndrome of blaming women for what they wore and where they were, but the problem is the men and boys in India who go for all kinds of misogyny and rapes and sexual acts’.

India toughened sentences for rape and introduced fast-track courts for sexual trials, as national statistics show that some 92 women are raped each day in India.

Tourists can be subjected to the same harassment as in the case when an Israeli national was sexually assaulted by a gang of men in the Himalayan resort town of Manali on July 20, 2016. A Japanese woman was kidnapped and sexually assaulted in 2014 in Bihar, and a Russian was assaulted by an auto-rickshaw driver in Delhi in 2015, among other cases.