Before traveling to India, I braced myself for the possible unpleasant encounters with misogyny and utter poverty I often heard from news. Some said, expect people to poo by the road. Yeah, we saw that. Even stepped onto one in Old Delhi. Expect to be tailed. Yes, we experienced that. Expect to be groped. Hmm, that I did not experience, but I experienced my boob being elbowed, my butt touched. Intentionally? I would not know. But you can’t really paint the entire country the same shade of shame and prejudices. So there is no straight answer to the question is India safe for women.
The question of whether Indian culture is inherently misogynistic is a complex and sensitive one. While it is true that Indian society has historically been patriarchal, with men holding most positions of power and women often relegated to traditional roles within the home, it would be inaccurate and unfair to characterize the entire culture as misogynistic.
There are certainly aspects of Indian culture that have perpetuated gender inequality, such as the dowry system, which has led to discrimination against girls and women and has been linked to instances of dowry-related violence and even murder. The prevalence of gender-based violence and harassment in India is also a serious concern that highlights the need for cultural change.
However, it is important to recognize that there are many aspects of Indian culture that are positive and empowering for women. For example, there are many female deities in Hinduism who are revered and worshipped, and women have held positions of spiritual leadership in various traditions. Women have also played important roles in social and political movements throughout India’s history, including the independence movement led by figures like Indira Gandhi and Sarojini Naidu.
Furthermore, Indian culture is diverse and varied, with different regions and communities having their own unique traditions and values. It would be a mistake to generalize about the entire culture based on the practices of certain groups or regions.
In conclusion, while there are certainly aspects of Indian culture that have perpetuated gender inequality, it is important to approach the question of misogyny with nuance and sensitivity. It is also important to recognize the positive contributions that women have made to Indian culture and society throughout history. Ultimately, addressing gender inequality in India will require a multifaceted approach that involves education, advocacy, and cultural change.
We expected and prepared for the worst.
The question of whether India is safe for women is a complex one that requires a nuanced and deep answer. It is important to note that India is a vast and diverse country with a population of over 1.3 billion people, and as such, it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations about the safety of women across the entire country. However, there are some patterns and trends that can be identified.
India has a long history of patriarchal values and gender inequality, which has led to a range of challenges and risks for women. These challenges include gender-based violence, discrimination, harassment, and limited access to education and healthcare. Women in India face a range of threats to their safety, including sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and child marriage.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were over 33,000 cases of rape reported in India in 2018 alone. However, experts believe that the actual number of rape cases is much higher, as many cases go unreported due to social stigma, fear of retaliation, and a lack of faith in the justice system. There have also been several high-profile cases of sexual violence against women that have made headlines both in India and around the world, such as the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.
Despite these challenges, there have been some efforts to improve the safety and security of women in India. The government has introduced several measures and initiatives aimed at addressing gender-based violence, such as the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013, which increased the punishment for rape and other sexual offences, and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, which aims to improve the status of girls in India through education and other means.
There has also been a growing awareness of the issues facing women in India, with increased media coverage and public discourse around gender-based violence and discrimination. This has led to a range of grassroots movements and initiatives aimed at empowering women and promoting gender equality, such as the #MeToo movement in India and the Pink Sari Revolution.
However, despite these efforts, women in India still face significant challenges and risks to their safety. The issue of gender inequality is deeply entrenched in Indian society, and it will take time and sustained effort to address these issues and create a safer and more equitable society for women.
But surprise, surprise! There are actually many places in India that are women-friendly, places that make you feel comfortable of showing a bit of skin, places whose men are kind and polite, places that I can explore with fellow female friends and places that I have the confidence to travel solo if given the chance.
Here are five that I could recommend.
OUR 26-DAY DAY INDIA TRIP ROUTE: DELHI-AGRA-VARANASI-DARJEELING-KOLKATA-KERALA
IMPORTANT NOTE: Check your country’s visa requirements for India. For Filipinos, you can apply for your e-visa beforehand. Kindly follow the instructions on the link. The visa fee is USD50.00. I got mine within 24 hours upon the submission of my visa application.
Indeed it is. When we made it to Darjeeling, I thought we were not in India anymore. Locals look different from the ones in New Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi. Most of them have small eyes like mine. They dress like I do. And the people despite the cold temperature are very warm. We got invited for a home-cooked meal dinner in a Punjab family’s home!
Hotel Seven Seventeen
Golden Orchid: The Lodge (we stayed here) is a budget inn, the room did not have a heater, but it did have a hot shower. It is a bit of walk from the center. But overall, our stay was pleasant.
Hotel Dezong offers quality accommodation and great service for an affordable price.
WHAT TO WEAR: Most locals wear layered (because brrrrr) western clothes.
Sikkim was supposed to be our destination after our three-night stay in Darjeeling. But we traveled to this part of India in its odd version of summer: rainy and cold. So we aborted our plan and went to Kolkata instead. But our stay in Darjeeling was, for us, enough evidence that northern India breaks away from the stereotypical misogynist image of this subcontinent. Northern India is the perfect destination for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
THINGS TO DO
While lodging at The Apple Orchard Resort, guests can enjoy 24-hour security, daily housekeeping, express check-in/check-out, luggage storage, car park.
At Golden Valley Lachung Residence, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay.
Haha! The wordplay is not as good. But yeah, on my calculation, Calcutta (Kolkata) is not a bad choice. We walked most of time and let out tongue explore a lot of street food. Tobi enjoyed the food scene more than I did. There was a huge farmer’s market within the neighborhood, and we loved it a lot. We spent all our mornings there, buying all-time favorite tropical fruits and sampling different teas along the street (Tobi’s hobby in India). This city is for architecture and market lovers. Most streets are peopled, and the men do not rudely stare. They are helpful and fascinated with our fascination towards their food.
WHAT TO WEAR: Loose dresses and scarfs. Leggings paired with loose shirts or blouses.
WHERE TO STAY
Georgian Inn (we stayed here) is a family-owned gated budget inn at Doctor Lane, 1.6km away from Sealdah Train Station. There is free WiFi in the lobby.
Royal Guest House & Service Apartment offers free breakfast and free WiFi in its rooms.
Among the four places we have been to, it was only in Kerala that I had the guts to show my legs during our rounds in wet markets and our walks around the neighborhood. For a moment, I felt overdressed. But the locals seemed more accepting of our differences more than anywhere else in India. So yes, I felt very comfortable with myself in Kerala.
THINGS TO DO
WHAT TO WEAR: Thigh-length shorts are welcome. I pair shorts with loose Boho
Avoid showing some cleavage though.
WHERE TO STAY
Midrange Hotels in Allepey
Punnamada Resort is nestled in a lush garden setting only four kilometers from town, this resort offers the weary traveler or couple on honeymoon a fantastic experience.
Ramada Alleppey Hotel offers quality accommodation and great service.
Keratheeram Beach Resort (in Varkala, we stayed here) is 700 metres from Janardhanaswamy Temple and is a few steps away from the famous Varkala cliff.
Thiruvambadi Ayurvedic Beach Retreat is ideally situated in Varkala; one of the city’s most popular locales.
Agra is the home of the iconic mausoleum Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is a popular destination, and the locals are mostly helpful and polite. We sampled a lot of street food, and consequentially, Tobi had a bad case of diarrhea here. [Do not forget to bring diarrhea medications with you!]
THINGS TO DO
WHAT TO WEAR: Agra is pretty humid in summer (June-August). Refrain from showing too much skin. Despite its popularity among foreign travelers, Agra remains a conservative place. But overall, the place is female-friendly.
Hotel Taj Resorts is the ideal point of departure for your excursions in Agra. Only 11 km from the city center.
Hotel Crimson Palace enjoys a commanding position in the shopping, culture, sightseeing hub of Agra.
Bonfire Hostels (we stayed here) is within walking distance to Taj Mahal and other destinations. The well-traveled owner himself managed this place during our stay, so we enjoyed it a lot because of him.
Hotel Saniya Palace is a great base from which to explore this vibrant city.
There they are! We hope you find India appealing and beautiful like we did. If you have been there, what was your favorite place? Would love to hear your stories!