Respect the local custom and dress accordingly — that’s what female travellers from Britain have been advised as a safeguard against gender-based violence in India.
In wake of Scarlett Keeling’s murder in Goa on February 19, an updated advisory was issued on March 7 by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK government, with amendments in the ‘crime’ section. A web link to ‘assault, sexual assault and rape overseas’ page has also been included in the section which describes precautions a female tourist should take and where to contact for help.
Confirming the update, a spokesperson of the British High Commission in Delhi said that the advisory was updated taking into consideration the current situation in the country. The advisory says: “Female travellers are advised to observe and respect local dress and customs and to take particular care.”
The advisory could not have come at a worse time for the tourism industry. The travel industry, represented by the Travel Agent’s Association of India (TAAI) has just signed an agreement with the British government to promote tourism between the two countries. A TAAI delegation will be visiting London in September to promote travel between Britain and India and work out strategic alliances.
The advisory categorically says: “There have been incidents of sexual offences against women in Delhi and Goa and in 2008 our consular staff have been made aware of a number of British nationals who have been the victim of serious sexual offences.” The country has already taken a beating in the perception of safety in tourists worldwide who think India is no longer a safe destination.