UK issues updated travel advisory for female travellers in India

Britain has advised its female tourists to be cautious while travelling in India in the wake of the rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh last week. “A Swiss national suffered a serious sexual attack in Madyha Pradesh on 16 March. Women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group,” the updated advisory states.

Six men accused of raping the 39-year-old Swiss tourist, who was camping with her husband in a forest in Madhya Pradesh, have been remanded in custody and have reportedly confessed to their crime. The woman has since been discharged from hospital.

 “Women should use caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk,” the advisory details.

“British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men,” it adds.

“If you are a woman travelling in India, you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day,” the advisory issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states.

Especially aimed at women travellers, the cautionary notice expressly urges unaccompanied females to avoid public transport at night. “Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports.  Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. If you are the victim of abuse call “100” for police assistance (“112” from mobile phones).”

In addition, the travel advisory for all travellers takes into account the heightened security risk in Kashmir, and has advised travellers to remain vigilant of any developing situations.

“A curfew is in operation in Srinagar and major towns in Kashmir following the 13 March armed attack on a police camp in the Bemina area of Srinagar which killed 5 policemen and wounded others, and a fatal shooting the same day by police of a protester in the Zoonimar area of Srinagar. If you’re in Kashmir, monitor the media, avoid large crowds and take extra care,” the advisory cautions.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah,” it adds.

The FCO also advises tourists against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar.

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