Are there dangerous places in Goa, India
After a gruesome gang rape in Delhi, which resulted in the death of a young woman, Indian society is discussing the extent to which Indian women are exposed to sexual violence. Now a Swiss tourist who was camping with her husband in a forest near the temple town of Orchha was raped by several men. Not only women traveling alone wonder how safe a vacation in India is. In travel blogs they often read the naive answer: "Nothing happened to me, enjoy the country." The German author and former journalist Kornelia Santoro, on the other hand, who has been traveling through India since 1994 and living with her family in Goa, urgently advises caution.
SZ.de: Ms. Santoro, what do travelers need to know about India?
Kornelia Santoro: It gets dangerous as soon as it's dark. Crimes are usually committed under cover of darkness, "because nobody sees me there" - that's the way criminals think. In addition, there is this mob mentality, crimes are often committed together, as is the case with the terrible gang rape. However, that doesn't mean it's always safe during the day. It is best to ask tourists in hotels which areas they are better off avoiding.
You have lived with your family in Goa, a popular holiday destination, for almost ten years. Where would you never go there?
It may be a little safer here during the day than in poorer areas. You can move about freely on the beach or in the markets, as a woman you will only be groped. But even in Goa I don't go alone where I could be attacked. For example, the jungle behind some beaches would be wonderful for walks. But I better do without them. Goa is not an ideal world. Not a week goes by in which the newspapers do not report cases of abuse. A few weeks ago, a seven-year-old was raped in a school. And recently an American tourist, but she didn't file a complaint. She just wanted to get away.
You yourself rode your motorcycle through the north of India in 1994 and were almost raped at the time. What has happened there?
My motorcycle broke down in the afternoon and I had to go to an army camp for help. An officer showed me around for ages, it was getting dark and I was exhausted. At first I didn't understand that it was getting dangerous. It was only when the officer told me to sleep in the camp that I insisted on being taken to my accommodation. Two soldiers drove me. On the way they attacked me, threw me out of the car and onto the ground. One bit my cheek, they tried to take off my clothes. I struggled and screamed like a stick.
Is that why they left you?
No. I realized that I had no chance and resigned myself to dying now. I don't know why the soldiers stopped then. But when we drove on, they tried again and I screamed like crazy again. So they threw me out of the car. And I survived.
As a woman traveling alone, did you think the soldiers were easy victims?
The bad thing is that even male companions do not always protect women from assault. Both the student in Delhi and the Swiss tourist were out with her boyfriend and husband, respectively. But that is exactly what she may have made her goal.
In what way?
For some Indian men, decent girls have to stay home, especially at night. If you are out with your boyfriend, you behave like a whore in their eyes. One woman who was molested in Bombay said the rapists told her exactly that. They also felt morally superior while violating them.
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