Thai women wear Indian style saris

7 tips for a safe trip to India (for women)

This is a guest post by Sarah Appelt from Chalo! To travel.

The issue of security for women in India is unfortunately still topical. As a woman, I have lived in India for five years. I feel very safe and at ease, but am aware of the critical situation with Indian men and always very attentive when I meet groups of men, especially when they are drunk.

I can only recommend to every travel enthusiast to come to India to get to know this wonderful country, with its mostly great people. I would even say that India is a very safe country to travel to: hardly any robberies, little violence. The Indian himself is a very peaceful fellow and tries to avoid confrontations. A single Indian is also rather cowardly and only becomes more courageous in a group of friends and under the influence of alcohol.

Only the relatively high number of rapes, including those of foreign travelers, give cause for concern. It is important to understand the cultural background of these rapes before heading to India so that one can limit the risk of danger.

In most of India, the Indian woman is unfortunately considered to be inferior to the man. The custom of dowry still prevails in some states, which is officially forbidden, but is still common in states such as Rajasthan, Madya Pradesh and Bihar. When a girl is born, the family has to save for a lifetime, only to be able to marry her appropriately later and to move to the husband's family. So a boy is wanted more from birth, is encouraged, pampered and taught that women are not as valuable as himself. So whatever you want can be done with a woman.

In addition, although the poorer families are large, they do not have a lot of space in the house. Often several people sleep in one room. There is no room for privacy and certainly not for exchanging affection. The natural desire is suppressed or only happens very quickly and silently.

While sex is still often a taboo subject in India and until recently kisses were not even seen in Bollywood films, in Western films Indians are shown how freely and openly Western women are. In their “Sexy Movies” (the Indian description for porn) they often watch white, blonde women having sex.
This information is not intended to excuse the rapes, but rather to provide an insight into how to move around India more safely.

I would also like to add that the above in no way applies to all Indians. I have many educated Indian friends who are ashamed of their country's reputation. Especially the middle class and better. There is no need to fear the Indians from wealthier countries either. Often these Indians also live simply, but have enjoyed a good education and, above all, the Indian women enjoy a much better life here.

In the following I have written down seven tips and hints that women traveling alone in particular should follow in order to be safe on the road and to feel safe. The tips are mostly about normal behavioral measures that are adapted to Indian culture. That is how every Indian woman would behave.It's not about subjecting yourself to any constraints, but more about maintaining Indian culture and treating it with respect, as you should always do when traveling in a country with a different culture. And you can automatically enjoy India to the fullest.

1. Appropriate clothing

Indian women wear either saris or salwa kamis, in which the "important parts of the body" such as the breast and genitals are covered twice by the fabric. The robes are airy and long. This does not mean that western travelers also have to hide behind Indian robes. Body-covered, light clothing that reaches over the knees and shoulders is however appropriate.

I love to wear scarves. Not only can you cover your head with them, which is required in some religious places in India, but you can hang it over your shoulders, hide your face, protect yourself from the sun and wipe off your sweat.

These dress rules are a little more relaxed in tourist spots, especially in Goa. However, one should note that bikini & Co. are not common in India and women outside Kerala and Goa should bathe in the sea or river with full clothing.

2. Dealing with Indian men

When you get to India, you quickly notice that India seems to be dominated by men. They are everywhere: on the streets, in shops and trains. The fact that during your trip you mainly get to know Indians and not Indian women is not only due to the fact that the male birth rate is higher, but above all because of the tradition that the woman is at home and takes care of the children and the household during the Man makes the money. In the tourist resorts, it is men who own or work in restaurants, hotels and shops. Indians like to flirt and enjoy open conversations with Western women.

Many Indians are very nice however, I recommend keeping a certain distance and not get too intimate! Conversations are fine, but don't be too quick to reveal your personal contact information.

3. Confident demeanor

Indian women tend to be reserved and quiet. Especially when western women are touring India, it is important that they show strength and self-confidence. That can be simply the upright posture or a purposeful gait.

Every now and then, however, an Indian hand gets to a part of the body where it doesn't belong or something suggestive is said. That shouldn't be ignored but rather be countered with an angry demeanor and loudness. This intimidates the Indian and does not encourage him to do more!

4. Avoid darkness

As in the home country, it is a little less safe at night. Indian women avoid walking the streets in the dark and so should we. Parties have been imported into India from the west and do not have a long tradition in this country. Perhaps you will only be able to enjoy India during the day during your trip.

If you cannot avoid being out and about in the dark, it is worth investing in a taxi and having it brought you to your door.

5. Travel to the "right" areas of India

As mentioned before, there are areas in India that are safer and more unsafe. In the poorer states like Bihar, Madya Pradesh or Uttar Pradesh, the people are simply still very traditional and uneducated. These states should not be traveled to alone.

The southern states, on the other hand, are safer, especially the touristy Kerala and Goa. The mountain states, which are rather wealthy due to tourism and hydropower plants, are also unproblematic, and they are very Buddhist in character. These include Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Rajasthan is so touristy that the typical tourist places in the rather poorer and traditional state are also harmless.

6. Travel safely by bus and train

In India, passenger transport is very cheap and even if you invest in a ticket for the better class, the travel price is still affordable. As a woman traveling alone, you tend to invest less in air conditioning or more seating, but rather in safety. The better class can more easily afford the affluent class and is therefore safer.

7. Get connected

If you travel through India, you meet other travelers all the time and everywhere. Especially on long journeys between two places, or to visit more remote corners of India, it makes sense to find two or three travel companions. This is not only more sociable, but also gives you security!

You can find more from Sarah and her team on her website Chalo! To travel.

Photo: Taj Mahal from Shutterstock