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India is a beautiful country that's filled with a rich culture, delicious food, and some of the most breathtaking sights in the world. Home to the Taj Mahal, Bollywood, and a wide range of incredible landscapes, it's easy to see why so many people want to visit this sunny country.
There are some safety tips every woman should know before traveling alone, but, unfortunately, it's well-known that India is one of the most dangerous countries for female travelers. Due to the street harassment, unwanted attention, and sexual assault rates, many travel advisors warn women against traveling alone in multiple regions of India.
That being said, India can be an enjoyable place to go as a single female. Just to be safe, you still should follow these tips for women traveling alone in India.
Consider getting a tour group trip.
One of the best tips for women traveling alone in India is to avoid doing it altogether. If you are the only one of your friends who wants to go to India, finding a company that offers specialized all-girl tours is a great way to see the country with minimal issue.
There's a lot of strength in numbers, and, if you're a solo traveler, it's a good idea to really work that to your advantage. A tour guide will know how to handle local issues better than you will; it's their job, after all.
Use the women's section of public transportation and avoid using mixed-gender transport after dark.
Due to the sexual harassment rates that India has become known for, many major metropolitan areas of the country now offer seating that's exclusively reserved for females.
Travel is one of the more important things to be cautious with if you're a female traveler. The United States State Department strongly encourages using the "family seating" and notes:
Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companion...
Stick to very well-known entertainment venues.
Women traveling alone in India have to remember that this country can get very sketchy, very quickly. While there are always plenty of cool nightclubs, restaurants, and spas you can try out here, there are also a lot of places where foreigners can easily become the targets of gruesome crimes.
A good rule of thumb is to play it safe. It's better to go to mainstream clubs that are well-known than it is to go to a shady hole in the wall. Traveling in India, especially at night, can be risky.
Be careful about your dress.
As much as it pains us all to admit this, there is an issue with sexual assault of Western tourists in India. Due to the bad track record this country has had in recent years, many travel experts emphasize the importance of dressing conservatively.
There are a lot of social standards in India that tend to be stricter towards women than men. Things like dancing with men, staying out late, wearing revealing clothing, and, yes, traveling solo, tend to be taken as signs that you're looking to get laid.
While no woman is ever "asking for it," it's important to remember that women traveling alone in India may be marked as an easy victim if their clothing is revealing.
If someone makes you uncomfortable, tell them off in a loud voice.
India is a place where people tend to trust women more than they do men—and, as a result, tend to be more protective of them as well. This means that public shaming tends to work very well when it comes to getting men to back off, since people will often stick up for women who make it clear that advances aren't welcome.
Another good tactic to use, particularly if you feel like your being cornered, is to yell, "You are crossing a line! I'm taking your photo to the police!" while holding up a camera. This will make most predators back away quickly. And make sure you bring the right camera bag for traveling.
Understand that not all staring is leering.
Women traveling alone in India will likely notice that people—particularly men—will stare at them. Though there may be men who are gawking at you because they're pigs, it's important to realize that not all the eyes you attract are due to negative attention.
Many people in India, both male and female, are curious about foreigners. If they are not saying anything, pointing, or making a ruckus, it could just be that they are fascinated by your clothing and wondering where you're from.
No matter who's asking, you have a boyfriend.
It's no secret that women traveling alone in India have a tendency to get male attention wherever they go. Unfortunately, that means that you will have to deflect questions about your relationship status pretty heavily.
If someone asks if you have a boyfriend or spouse, your best bet is to tell them that you have someone—regardless of who asks. People who hear that you are single will interpret that as an invitation.
If guys are following you or groping you, don't be afraid to go to the police.
Believe it or not, the police force in India takes harassment very seriously—especially when it happens to women traveling alone in India's more metropolitan areas. That means that you should feel empowered when it comes to reporting harassment or other uncomfortable topics.
Generally speaking, Indian police officers will want to help you out because they know that harassment makes their country look bad. So, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Use common sense, and be assertive.
No matter where you go, a little common sense and a lot of backbone will get you very far—and keep you very safe. Ask yourself if something is sketchy about the situation you're in or if what you're doing seems to be safe.
Obviously, this means that you should avoid going out alone after dark, and you should keep a friend abreast of your travels while you're abroad. But, there's more to common sense than the obvious rules you should follow.
When you're in a foreign country, it's often better to be safe than sorry. Use this when deciding where to go. Something that seems innocuous at face value, such as a rickshaw driver grabbing his friend as you travel with him, might not be as innocent as it seems.
If someone keeps trying to get you to work against your vibes, disengage immediately and find a police officer to help you out. You do not have to do anything you don't want to do!
Understand that there are more awesome people than there are predators.
Women traveling alone in India definitely have a lot of precautions they should take, and, to a point, are right to be concerned for their safety while they're out and about. The thing you need to keep in mind is that India isn't a place filled with predators.
For every single creep out there, there are at least two men who are embarrassed by that guy's behavior and another two who want to knock that guy's lights out because of how bad he makes men look.
So don't fret. Have fun, and travel to your heart's content. There's a reason why so many honeymoon destinations are in India, and there's a reason why travelers always want to come back.