Is India Really Safe for Solo Women?
This is a question we often get asked and one we actually asked others when we first thought about travelling through India. Whilst we didn’t actually travel solo through india, the fact that we are two girls and travelled without being accompanied by any men, this could be considered travelling “solo”.
The culture in India alone, prevents women from travelling alone. As you will encounter when you arrive in India, the population of men actively on the streets or in restaurants, greatly out weighs that of women.
So is if really safe for women to travel India alone?
“Safety is a cheap and effective insurance policy.” It keeps you from facing danger and it prevents you from encountering mishaps on your journey as you travel. It is normal for people to be afraid or to be anxious when travelling to an unfamiliar place especially when they are travelling alone.
Because being afraid or being anxious is a natural way of preventing yourself from getting in danger. Most of the time, when women do travel alone, they get worried or apprehensive for their safety.
This is especially true when travelling at night or in notoriously bad areas. There are a lot of destinations around the world where solo women doubt their safety and one of which is certainly India.
In every country, there are mishaps. And sometimes, chaos and misunderstandings are inevitable. But oftentimes, people misinterpret these issues and events that happen within a country and become afraid of pursuing their journey. This can be said for India.
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Yes the culture is different and in some cases we may not even understand it. But if each and every traveller were equipped with the right mindsets to wander off the beaten track, then the chance of these misfortunate events can be reduced.
It is widely known that foreign women in India can face horrendous experiences such as staring, groping, stalking and most extremely, rape. However, these issues can in most cases be avoided and apprehended.
These do not happen everywhere in the entire region.
When people hear about these events in India, they overthink and immediately assume it will also happen to them. But they are wrong! Just like in any other place, there are precautions and safety measures to ensure your safety in India.
For us, we always travel with awareness. There are certain situations that occur that are out of our control but in most cases we plan ahead to make sure these instances do not happen.
Once when arriving in Calcutta, after getting a night bus from Lucknow it was still dark out. We were immediately apprehensive about getting to our hotel safely. We hailed down a taxi and gave the taxi our hotel name and address.
Making sure to book in advance and know where you are going is crucial when travelling in India. Having the hotel location in our sat nav on my phone we could monitor the direction the driver was going in.
Being the sceptic that I am, and sometimes a little over sensitive, I took a photo of the taxi drivers licence displayed on the dashboard and saved it in my phone. I checked around to make sure the doors were not locked and the windows could be rolled down.
I observed the drivers attitude to try and detect strange behaviour or potential serial killer traits! We were very tired after our long journey but we stayed alert, always making conversation. We never flashed our cash or electronics and we made sure to keep our valuable belonging in the back seat with us, and not in the boot.
These precautions may sound silly to some and totally over the top, but we would rather be safe than sorry and have no trouble looking like idiots in order to ensure our safety!
From our experience, there are certain actions you can take when in India, to ensure your safety:
#1 It is best to be home before dark. For transfers or travels, solo women should ask the hotel or gatehouse to book a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to ensure safety especially during night time. Most hotels will take a record of the driver to prevent any dangerous events from occurring.
#2 It is recommended to always keep in check with the people close to you or to the hotel management itself. Sending your travel itinerary, hotel and bus departure times and dates to family at home can help if something terrible should happen.
This is also great for parents at home who are nervous about your journey. If they think they know where you are and at what date they may feel a little less apprehensive. If something terrible should happen and it is broadcast on the news, they can rule out potentially being you if they know your exact location.
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#3 It is not recommended to wear skimpy or revealing clothing in India. Also do not try to wear indian sari’s to blend in. This can sometimes attract the wrong attention from indian men.
#4 Do not act too friendly towards men who approach you and try to avoid direct eye contact. It is believed in indian culture, that if you look directly into the eyes of a man, you are attracted to him and therefore warrant his unwanted attention.
#5 Do not to accept alcoholic drinks from strangers and always try to have a backup while walking alone. If you meet another traveller at your hotel or guest house, make arrangements to eat together or visit attractions.
It is not common for alcohol to be served in bars and restaurant in India due to their cultural restrictions, but it is not impossible. Always be cautious if you need to drink and try to avoid it at best.
If solo women ask, “Is it safe to travel in India alone?” the answer is, “Is anyone really ever safe?”.
As long as solo women in India follow the recommendations and precautions while travelling alone, they can ensure their safety.
You should not concentrate on the negative side of India for it will surely cloud all the positives. Yes there are cases when terrible instances have occurred, but try to remember there are also a lot of respectful, kind and generous people there too. These people are the ones you should call to accompany you, learn the culture will and share experiences.
If you are asking yourself “should I still go to India?”. Then the answer should be “YES”.
No place will ever fascinate you like India can. The people, the wonders, the magical untold stories, the history, the religion, the colours and the wisdom and knowledge you will acquire while you journey through this terrifically diverse nation, will touch your heart in ways you didn’t know existed.
Go to India. But always be sure to have an open eye, an open mind, and an open heart.
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