Some of us would never have heard that the term ‘Foreign Tourist’ has a very technical and to-the-point type of definition. ‘A foreign tourist is someone traveling abroad for at least twenty-four hours’, defined the League of Nations in 1936. The United Nations did a little amendment in the definition in 1945 by extending the maximum stay to six months. However, be it a stay for twenty four hours or for six months, every tourist brings a lot of economic prosperity to the place or region he visits. Tourism is always an important source of income because it brings in large amounts of income into a local economy in the shape of payments for tourism related services. Moreover tourism provides a lot of new opportunities for trade and employment also. Experts on economy say that there could be no other industry more profitable than tourism. But another important point to be kept in mind is that Tourism and Terrorism are like fire and water to each other. Terrorism kills tourism.
Terrorism injurious to tourism could be of different kinds; one of these kinds is sexual terrorism. The foreigners who go to different countries as tourists are usually provided a very compact type of security at government level especially in case of female tourists and usually the female tourists rarely have to face an unpleasant situation but some countries have a very bad repute in this regard; these are the countries where female tourists are advised to avoid going because of the risk of sexual-terrorism; India is on the very top of the list of such countries. Every year so many female tourists have to face sexual harassment and rape while on their trip to India. 2017 had been very painful in this context. The rape and murder of an Irish woman Danielle McLaughlin created a lot of problems for India at international level. This lady was on her trip to the western Indian state of Goa to celebrate the spring festival of Holi at Goa’s popular Palolem beach. That night while returning to her cottage from the beach someone raped her and then brutally murdered. Her badly bruised all naked body was found a few kilometres away in Canacona by a farmer early the next day.
According to the local police a man arrested in connection with the murder had confessed to sexually assaulting Ms McLaughlin and killing her in order to hide his identity. The very next month a German tourist lady came to the local police station of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu state and complained that two unidentified men took her captive when she was walking alone by Casuarina grove near the resort in which she was staying. They dragged her to a secluded spot and brutally raped her. A case was registered against the unidentified criminals but police could not succeed in tracing them out. Same thing happened to a US tourist on 9th April, 2016 in Delhi.
According to CNN, she was drugged and raped by a group of men in her five-star hotel room. The American woman in her early thirties was in New Delhi as part of a tour group. Delhi police spokesman, Dependra Pathak said talking to CNN, “She says she was given something to drink that was spiked. When she gained consciousness, she knew she had been violated.”
According to a survey, arranged by an international NGO Breakthrough, 90% of the females in India experience sexual harassment and 86% of them think that it is not safe for them to work evening-shifts and late hours. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the capital has a rate of reported rapes that is four times higher than the national average.
In short New Delhi has an ugly reputation when it comes to the safety of women. Every year the number of rape cases is increasing at an alarming speed. Only in 2015, some 34,651 rapes were reported in India but many experts believe that every year the cases reported are only a small fraction of the number of the rapes committed. India is a country with a lot of scenic beauty. Every year thousands of tourists plan to visit the country for the purpose of sight-seeing but the worsening law and order situation particularly with reference to the increasing number of rape incidents is badly effecting the tourism industry in India. The situation is really frightening and alarming. Certainly Mr. Modi and his government would be planning to take serious action regarding the security of female foreigners who come there as tourists but return as raped foreigners.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Multan.