“The foreign tourists that come here must inform the police of their activities”

“We must see what we can do to stop such incidents… The foreign tourists that come here must inform the police of their activities. That way such incidents can be kept in check,” says Uma Shankar Gupta, the state Home Minister. [Swiss gang-rape case: chaos in Madhya Pradesh Assembly]

Are we trying to say that this should be the procedure followed by all foreign tourists visiting India? And what about the safety of Indian tourists, or even local women? Should they also inform the police of their activities?

Swiss Gang Rape Victim, Husband Partially To Blame For Attack, Indian Officials Suggest

‘On Friday, a Swiss woman and her husband pitched a tent in a forest in Madhya Pradesh while on a three-month cycling excursion, according to the Associated Press. Around 9:30 p.m. a group of men attacked the couple, beat up the husband, tied him to a tree, gang raped the wife and robbed the pair, police said.

During a press conference on Sunday, police spokesperson Avnesh Kumar Budholiya suggested the tourists are partially to blame for the assault because they chose to travel that area without speaking to local police, the Independent reports.

“No one stops there,” Budholiya said. “Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.”

Another official also appeared to place blame on the victim and her husband.

“The rape of the Swiss national is unfortunate but foreign travelers should inform the police about their movement so they can be provided with adequate protection,” said Umashankar Gupta, the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, according to The Times. “They often don’t follow the state’s rules.”

Madhya Pradesh reportedly has one of the highest rates of crimes against women in the country, a fact the Swiss tourists were unaware of, according to the Times of India’

32 thoughts on ““The foreign tourists that come here must inform the police of their activities”

  1. By making a statement like that, the police are basically saying that India is a very unsafe country and tourists shouldn’t visit unless they’re going to be staying in nice hotels, etc. It’s like avoiding responsibility by shooting yourself on the foot–their country is going to miss out on tourism revenue.

    As a foreign citizen living in India, I am required to register with the police every 180 days. It’s a bit of a pain, but not as bad as what the Afghanis and Iranians have to go through. I met a Palestinian student in the MHA who told me that travelling through Israel would be easier. One major problem seems to be that the officials have no thorough understanding of the law. The manner in which foreigners are treated by government officials can be downright appalling. In neighboring Sri Lanka, the locals and officials are both so much nicer.

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      • I don’t know about the Swiss, but the Canadian (and American) government has a website regarding travel to India. Currently, the travel advisory is set at ‘exercise extreme caution.’

        This is from the ‘security’ section for women: Foreign women are often a target for unwanted attention. Reports of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreign women have increased. Women should avoid travelling alone, particularly at night in less populous and unlit areas, including city streets, village lanes and beaches. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

        The Indian government doesn’t have any such provisions (that I know of anyway).

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  2. Yeah, let’s do that please. Let all foreign tourists in India inform the police about their whereabouts. Very soon, the phhholice phhhorce be deluged with so much data, so freaking much data, that they will lose track. And then, what hapened this time, is gonna happen again.
    Or, let’s do something else. Tell all foreign tourists, especially women, that they will get raped if they are at ‘the wrong place at the wrong time’. Maybe now, finally they’ll realize that choosing to travel in India itself, would be akin to being ‘at the wrong place at the wrong time’. Obviously, being with a male companion or not (another favourite argument that our oh-so-logical-and-‘Indian’ politicians love giving) doesn’t really matter.
    They should wait 500 years (too less time, ok, 5000 then) years more before they choose to come here. Till the ‘Indian’ men here are suitably ‘Westernized’. What say?😉

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    • I don’t think it has anything to do with being Westernized.

      Many ‘Westernized’ Indian men demonstrate the same misogynistic attitudes that their less urbane peers do on a routine basis.

      Ultimately, it is not a question of East or West, but rather one of human empathy, one of eradicating persistent myths about rape and sexual assault, and one of destroying stereotypes about victims of assault.

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      • I guess you didn’t read the quotes and the wink at the end. This was supposed to be a sarcastic comment. on what is considered indian and western. please read it again to understand what I meant.

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  3. Lets assume that these people did inform the police of their whereabouts.
    They go to the police station, (where I am assuming no one speaks French or German), but are promptly brushed away, because I’m sure the police are not aware of this newly created instant rule that exists only in the mind of a politician (they are tourists anyway, not residents).
    So they then head back to their camp.
    Would it have made any difference to the outcome? I’m pretty sure the answer is NO.
    So why is the chief minister of a state proposing ludicrous solutions like these?

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  4. Oh yea… if only the police were informed?
    classic eg of ppl going to any length to defend something they blindly believe in!
    My friend’s friend whos coming here to visit her from UK ws given a saety tips leaflet (read precautions for women). And this is a BIG shame for India. But who cares, as long as victims cn be blamed

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  5. ” And what about the safety of Indian tourists, or even local women?”
    Duh!! Silly question. Didn’t you know all good Indian women are supposed to stay at home, kitchen even, with a ghunghat covering their face, slaving away for their pati-parmeshwar. And if they dare to venture outside, they deserve to be raped.

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  6. The blame game continues. what about Indian women who are raped? Will they ask for ration card when they go outstation? A rape is a rape irrespective of whether Indian or foreign. The truth is that we, indians are at the receiving end and I hate when people sirf Indie mein yeh hota hai.

    Vishal

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  7. Yes the US travel advisory has recommended “extreme caution”, for women travelling to India. It’s really shameful what our ‘culture and traditions’ have reduced us to.

    India ranked as the worst place to be a woman in a global poll conducted by Trust Law in 2012, with Saudi Arabia ranking as the second worst.

    Excerpts:
    “Infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst. 44.5% girls were married before 19 years of age. UNICEF’s Global Report Card on Adolescents 2012, reveals that 57% adolescent boys and 53% of girls in India think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife.”
    ” In Saudi Arabia, factors like – women are not allowed to drive, women were given limited voting right only last year, 64.6% women with tertiary education are unemployed, the fact that the law against violence against women lacks teeth because a man’s testimony is worth that of two women in court – placed the oil rich country as the second worst.”
    “The United States is ranked sixth due to concerns about reproductive rights and affordable healthcare.”

    http://feministsindia.com/india-ranked-worst-g20-country-for-women/
    http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/352199/20120614/india-worst-country-woman-canada-best-saudi.htm

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  8. Oh, right. Can I register with the police and inform them of my every whereabout when I am in India? Why just foreigners? Why don’t we all do it! After all the police are sooo effective and have sooo many resources to handle three quarters of a billion women doing this!

    These two concepts ‘they were at the wrong place and the wrong time’ and ‘they often don’t follow rules’ are exactly why we have so many rapes. They are the exact lines dished out Indian women when they are raped. If we accept that women should be raped when they don’t toe the line, then we cannot complain against rapes and gang rapes. This imaginary ‘line’ keeps moving to the convenience of rapists and is unfortunately very flexible like that. So then we must expect many millions more Nirbhaya-like cases. Why don’t people get this?

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    • The whole point of foreigners registering themselves with the FRRO isn’t for their own protection. It’s done so that the Indian gov can keep tabs on how many foreign citizens are in the country, that if they’re employed, they’re employed legally, and that they’re not staying here after the Visa expiration date.

      While every government should take similar measures, the FRRO here does everything in hand written files. Nothing is computerized. It’s ridiculous because even a foreigner on a tourist Visa can ‘disappear’ here if he or she so chooses.

      Tourists are not required to register with the police unless they’re staying for more than 180 days–so I don’t know why the MP police is saying they should have registered. Also, there are only certain areas in the North East and Pakistan border areas for which foreign citizens have to get special permission. The Swiss couple wasn’t doing anything illegal.

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      • Kay, yes that’s why I wonder how registering with the police is relevant in a rape case. The only relevant point is that 5 men took it upon themselves to rape her. As you said, the procedures of ‘registering’ with the police are not meant for and are not capable of providing any sort of protection. They (the police) know that, we know that.. and yet they use it to push blame back on the woman. Good old victim blaming!

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  9. Good question IHM. What about Indian tourists? As if they don’t matter. And especially Indian women travelling alone on work/business?
    How can the police keep track of every single tourist’s whereabouts? That system doesn’t make sense logistically.
    At least they got the guys. I hope they receive swift justice.
    Now what’s with the face coverings with these guys? Why not let people see their faces? Who are the police trying to protect by covering rapists’ faces?

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  10. I wonder if the police maintain a register listing all the right places and the right times that they will make available to the tourists?

    What if this tourist had indeed informed the police?
    Would they have accompanied her or escorted her?
    The least the minister could have done was to express deep regret for the incident and promise strict action (both punitive for now and preventive for the future)
    Instead he blamed the victim.

    Condemnable.

    I now hear of one more incident in Agra where a British lady jumped out of the window to save herself.

    Should we add all hotel rooms in Agra to the list of wrong places?

    I would instead suggest a list of the wrong people in the wrong jobs.
    We could start with this minister’s name and his job.

    Regards
    GV

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  11. The horrendous situation we have on our hands cannot be salvaged if people in responsible positions continue to utter statements as meaningless and insensitive as these.

    “They should have informed the police” is not, in any way, an appropriate or adequate governmental response to a highly public gang-rape of a foreign national in your country.

    I think we are now at a point in time where many more women are finally raising their voice against the various injustices our system does to them, and the entire administrative/judicial infrastructure seems to have no clue how to respond. The governmental machinery is stuck in the mindset of the 1980s, where few victims ever came forward, and some of the high-profile ones who did were either completely disbelieved (and then shamed for being so brazen), or sent back with some platitudes and a promise of marriage to their rapist.

    The hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh can be a lawless place, and there is some truth to the assertion that in many rural areas, even basic policing is nearly non-existent. The reasons for this are complicated, and it may well have been possible that the police would have been hard-pressed to respond even if they had known that the couple were camping there.

    However, one would have hoped that instead of blaming victims for not complying with non-existent procedures, senior ministers would at least mirror the shock and dismay felt by many of us as third-parties to the incident. Once again, I am saddened but not surprised, considering the tokenism and horrible, draconian law-making that passes for ‘women’s empowerment’ in this country.

    Shameful.

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  12. So what according to them is a “Right place and right time”???? A woman going to the market in broad daylight is raped. A woman going to ofc in an auto is raped. A girl cycling to school is raped. A baby playing outside her house is raped. A grandma staying alone at home is raped. A woman visiting her relatives is raped on the way. A girl inside the school is raped.

    Where he hell is the right place in India???? What have some men in this country become?? Walking,Talking Raping missiles???? Are these MORONS like bombs that they see a woman and go offffffff??? Seriously!!!!

    And what would happen if foreigners go and list their whereabouts with the police? So that the police also can have a go at them???

    This is getting disgusting day by day. Why don’t any of these Politicans and Police realize that these morons HAVE DONE THE WRONG THING?? When will mindsets change? When will their brains work? Arrrrrrgggggggg!!!!!

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    • Totally agree! Two cases happened last week of men barging into slum houses and gang raping women. There is no right place and right time.

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  13. My boss (who is not Indian and has never been to India) heard about this news and asked me “Sanj, what is happening in India? What’s with all the rape cases?”

    I had nothing to say. It is shameful, what is happening, and I am sick of representing this country of mine that has no respect for women and refuse to treat them as fellow human beings. I don’t believe in patriarchy or rape culture or harassment of women in the name of wooing them for “love”.
    I have no defence to offer to the rest of the world when they ask me what the hell is happening with *my* country, when really, I feel no kinship with the country or its “values” at all.

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    • I live outside India too and I hear you. It is rather difficult because on one hand, there are good, liberal and beautiful things in our culture and then there is this patriarchal, hypocritical, violent side. I usually borrow the words of Shashi Tharoor and say, “India is a highly developed culture that is in an advanced state of decay. It will take a while to clean up.” We seem to have gone from the spiritual quest of liberation from identification with this perishable human body to a quest to rape all beings in the form of a woman.

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        • shashi tharoor, super conscious about his image and full of hot air. He is perfect for image conscious nris. You people can use him to show how smooth and polished the India you “represent” is.

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        • Hey I am an NRI and I don’t think I am trying to show any smooth, polished India or anything like that. Most of us are just human beings grappling with living in a foreign country and having kids here. People do ask us about India, just like they would ask a Chinese about China or a Russian about Russia. And I try to answer truthfully. And I don’t know what is the problem with Shashi Tharoor. I do think he speaks very well and that particular observation struck me as exactly correct. Besides I am a Malayali from Palakkad district in Kerala and Shashi Tharoor is also from there. So I rather like my fellow Keralite who has so much personality.

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        • Hey I am an NRI and I am not trying to represent any “smooth, polished India”. Most of us are just human beings grappling with life in a foreign land. It is true that people ask us things about India, just they ask a Chinese about China or a Russian about Russia. I just try to answer any question truthfully.

          I don’t know what the problem is with Shashi Tharoor. I know that he speaks very well and I felt that this particular observation is correct and expresses exactly what I feel. Besides I am from Palakkad district in Kerala and Shashi Tharoor is also from there. So I rather like my fellow Malayali who has so much personality.

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  14. Less than one police per 1000 people; taking into account the police on special duty.. am sure the ratio would become something like – one police per 2500 people? And they still feel that police can keep tab of all that happening? Even when they have been previously informed… with all the lack of knowledge, training and sensitivity?

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  15. Oh yes, that’s so ideal – keeping the police informed about your whereabouts on a personal trip. Very ideal indeed. And what better way to brush aside the deep seated misogyny and filth in our own country by blaming the victims for being in the ‘wrong place’. Seriously – they blame their own incompetency on others. The way foreign tourists have been attacked and raped is nothing short of shocking – and I hope it will result in fewer tourists coming to India. Then maybe some action will be taken to curb these rapes and other such incidents (since nothing else seems to be making a difference).
    And I’m sure Western tourists, who are used to the freedom of moving around without fears will feel like they’re in a police state where they have to keep contacting authorities to be ‘safe’. Good going India – keep promoting these crimes by saying ‘people should be careful (and blamed if they’re not careful) because India is so unsafe’.

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  16. Pingback: “As long as the men do not understand that they CANNOT and WILL NOT get away with such behavior and criminal acts, the rape culture will not go away” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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