The French embassy in New Delhi has reportedly appealed to France’s foreign affairs ministry to place a notice on its official website, warning female tourists to take “extra caution” while visiting India, according to a report in French daily Le Parisien on Wednesday.
The call comes after a recent series of sexual assaults on women in the world’s second most populous country, including a horrific incident on March 15 when a Swiss woman was gang raped, while on a cycling holiday with her husband.
A number of French tour-operators have already taken the initiative in warning their female clients, with one company, ‘Voyageurs du Monde’ (world travellers) even refusing to take bookings from women planning to visit India alone or in pairs.
“There is a certain sexual frustration in India, and this makes women more vulnerable,” spokesman Gino Pierre told the Parisien.
However, regular French visitor to India, Cécile Bigeon disagreed, telling the Parisien she had travelled to the country alone on numerous occasions, without any problems.
“Just don’t go out at night, don’t dress provocatively, and don’t hang around in isolated areas,” she added.
India, visited by more than 6 million foreigners every year, has seen its reputation as a destination for female tourists suffer in recent months.
This began in December, when an Indian student was gang-raped and brutally beaten by six men on a bus, later dying from her injuries.
Four days after the attack on the Swiss traveller a British tourist in her 30s was hospitalised after jumping from a hotel balcony in the city of Agra, to escape what she feared was an imminent sexual assault by two men.