It’s fairly common for my clients to inquire about safety in India. Whether in travel guides or on the news, there is often a bold headline warning women about the dangers of traversing the country - staring, groping, assualt, and even rape. As both a woman and travel professional, I feel it is important to have an open dialogue about such a relevant topic and dispel any myths.
Answering questions and educating travelers is part of my job here at Sodha Travel. However, I recently had two conversations with women who were adamant that if they traveled to India they would be raped. They were absolutely certain that India equaled danger. They called me “lucky” for not having this experience and one alluded that it was “only a matter of time” before I would be attacked. They both had an interest to travel to India but said their fears of rapists would keep them away.
So here’s my take.
India is a country of almost 1.3 billion people and not exempt from criminals. It is unfortunate but women will be the victims of senseless attacks. However, I strongly believe it is unfair to categorize an entire country under an umbrella of assaulters. The Indians I know are warm and welcoming and do not incite violence. I felt more threatened on a train from Rome to Prague and even when I lived in New York City.
I have traveled to India countless times in various professional and personal capacities - solo, with groups, with family, with friends. As a female, I can honestly say that I have never felt threatened. I cannot speak for every woman, nor do I intend to minimize the experience of another, but it is sincerely possible and likely to have an enriching and engaging trip.
India is vibrant and chaotic and crowded and animated.
It is easy to become overwhelmed, and as a woman, traveling in India will likely require a heightened sense of awareness. As with any international travel, I advise being aware of your surroundings and also understanding the basic social propriety. Common sense is key. Do I recommend booking services in advance and having a network available for assistance? I do. But does this mean if females travel independently they will be the victims of assault? Absolutely not.
As you may know, October starts peak season in India. We had one of our first sold-out groups of this season arrive in Delhi last week, a woman-only group led by a friend of Sodha Travel named Jyoti. This photo you see is one of the primary reasons I founded Sodha Travel over a decade ago - to provide enchanting experiences in a safe and comfortable environment. It is my philosophy that when travelers are comfortable, they will be more open to the world around them.
It is also why Sodha Travel has a department that exclusively caters to women-centered travel. We are here to answer your questions and share guidance from our own experiences.
So what can you expect as a female traveler, whether solo or with a group?
Well, staring is common, but often this is out of curiosity and not threatening. You will be asked to be in photographs, often with entire families or groups of people. Often our clients call this their “celebrity” moments. Your personal space may be compromised by the usual crowds of people or uninvited onlookers, but set firm boundaries. Ultimately safety is about being empowered - be assertive and stand your ground.
So please, I encourage you to reach out and ask my team any questions regarding safety. Is train travel secure? Should women book a ride sharing service like Uber? Are there any destinations to avoid? What clothing is appropriate? As destination specialists, we are here to help you make the most of your journey.
Until next time - Happy Travels!