When foreigners travel to India, they are given a set of guidelines. Fair enough. Happens with every country, you’d think, right? 

However, the women who travel solo to India are given another set of guidelines on “how to be safe”. 

Some embassies suggest that they should not travel alone…

… Others ask them to wear a wedding ring to avoid harassment. 

Some other pretty bizarre statements include this one…

When we shared these guidelines, the Indian internet, as always, went crazy defending the country. 

“India is only as safe as any other country. Stop defaming it!”

“Harassment isn’t just one country’s problem. It’s a worldwide issue.”

Yada yada.

Once again, we very conveniently made it all about ourselves and our country. But with 6 rape cases being reported everyday in the Capital alone, we can’t really take offence that such guidelines exist, can we?  

I woke up today to the news of a 28-year-old Irish woman, Danielle McLaughlin, being brutally raped and murdered in Goa, after a Holi party. Her naked body was found murdered at an isolated spot on a beach in South Goa’s Devabag village. She was murdered with a beer bottle. 

Such animalistic behaviour, you’d think. But what’s worse is that this isn’t the first time a foreigner has met with such a fate in our country. 

  • In 2008, a 15-year-old British girl, Scarlett Keeling’s bruised and semi-naked body was found on a beach. And what happened after that? In 2016, the two men charged for the crime were cleared of rape and murder charges. 
  • In January 2014, 9 men gangraped a 52-year-old Danish woman in Delhi’s Connaught Place when she lost her way and asked them for help. 
  • In January 2014, an 18-year-old German girl, a teacher and a volunteer for an NGO, reported that she was raped on the Mangalore-Chennai train. 
  • In January 2014, a 33-year-old Polish woman reported that she was raped by a cab driver who offered her a ride on the Mathura-Delhi highway.

I have a confession to make. I am an Indian and I love my country but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel safe here. I never have. None of my friends do either. How then, can a foreigner feel safe in a country that stares at any Firangi, Totta and Maal till she is uncomfortable and forced to cover up?

Today, we will all talk about Danielle McLaughlin. She will trend and make it to the front page of newspapers and feature in long op-eds about women’s safety in India. We will cringe, and we will tsk tsk at our Indian mentality. Until the new season of GoT comes along, or another cat video goes viral. 

This, like many other cases listed above, will be forgotten till another one of these cases is reported and the cycle will continue.  

What happened with Danielle McLaughlin was unfortunate, to say the least. But what are we doing to make sure that another Danielle McLaughlin doesn’t happen in India?