Three governments have updated travel advice for women visiting India, urging them to exercise caution because of an increasing number of sex attacks on foreigners.
The UK, Canada and France issued the advice on Thursday, after last week’s gang-rape of a Danish woman in Delhi.
Information on the UK’s Foreign Office website said: “Serious sexual attacks involving Polish, German and Danish women travellers have been reported so far in 2014. Women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group.”
The Canadian government offered similar advice, while the French government singled out Delhi.
“The greatest caution is recommended, particularly in Paharganj, a popular area close to Connaught Place and New Delhi Railway Station, very popular with tourists for its cheap hotels,” it said.
France and the UK are two of the 10 biggest tourist markets for India. The US, the top market for India, updated its travel advice last March to read: “Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Keep your hotel room number confidential and make sure hotel room doors have chains, deadlocks, and spy-holes.”
Travel companies fear India is increasingly gaining a reputation for being unsafe for women, with some telling The Hindu newspaper there had already been a drop in the number of travellers from Germany.
Madhavan Menon, from Thomas Cook India, told the paper: “With more and more such cases happening in India, international tourists, especially European tourists, are viewing this negatively. If this continues, it is bound to impact inbound tourism.”
The US State Department also explains on its website that for evidence of an assault to be submitted in a court case, Indian authorities require that the medical exam be completed at a government hospital.
“Therefore, if a victim goes to a private hospital for treatment, the hospital will more than likely refer them to a government hospital for this aspect of the medical process.”