Safety in India

Safety in India September 4, 2013

Today I want to talk about this article I saw on Twitter over the weekend: India and A Blonde Tourist.

Lately there have been some scary articles about how dangerous it is to be a female tourist in India. This article is a wonderful counterpoint to that, speaking for the many female tourists who have a wonderful and safe time in India.

She makes some wonderful points, including that in many cases the expectation you have going in is going to inform your experience.

A while back there was a nasty troll on my Facebook fan page. He started out by telling me that if I ever visited India, I would be raped. 

I informed him that I have visited India and never felt unsafe for a single moment. He started asking what my gender was, apparently thinking I must be a man (this was the first clue he wasn’t a friend if he hadn’t even looked at my pictures or clicked around enough to know I was a woman!) I didn’t want to engage with him but I was very frustrated by this implication that a woman cannot enjoy India without getting raped! So I told him to go look at the photo album. He came back from that to say that of course I wasn’t raped: I was dark-haired and chunky.

He confidently told me that if I were slimmer and blonde, I would be raped for sure.

At that point I blocked him (and tried to report him to FB, but apparently telling someone they are too ugly to be raped doesn’t “violate the community standards” at FB!) But there wasn’t much I could say against his point. I am dark haired. I was actually pretty slender when I went to India a couple years ago. I’ve put on a little weight since then!

But I knew there were women who stood out as more foreign than me who were having a wonderful time visiting India. Finally there is an article saying just that.

“In fact, no one’s account can and should be generalised — one sixth of humanity lives in India; there are many Indias in India; every traveler interacts only with a small fraction of Indians, and can thus only give a tiny fragment of the true Indian experience — whatever that is. But I believe that we make our experiences as much as our experiences make us.”

This is not to say that rape doesn’t happen. It certainly does and I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s experience. My heart goes out to those Indian women who have been raped. There is some reform that needs to happen. Not just in India, but here in America and in other parts of the world as well. Women need to be valued as human beings, not as objects or lesser creatures who owe something to others. I applaud those women who are working hard to make India safer for women.

There are men who behave inappropriately all over the world. It happens in India and it happens here.

I think it is very valuable what Ms. Jane von Rabenau has to say. I think she has a vastly different experience because she looks at the people around her as human beings and she trusts them to be such. A lot of the articles scaring women away from touring India have a racist undertone that makes it sound like Indian men are somehow more brutish or animilistic than western men. This is ridiculous and dangerous. If we start to believe that, then we start treating good men as though they are criminals.

I think Ms. Jane von Rabenau’s article needs to have as many views as the one she is reacting off of. I’ve done my best to help this story go viral and I hope that you will also share this link whenever opportunity arises!

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