Saturday 24 March 2018

Dangers for women travelling to Goa are well known

Scarlett Keeling was raped and found dead on a beach in India aged 15. Photo: REUTERS
Scarlett Keeling was raped and found dead on a beach in India aged 15. Photo: REUTERS
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The dangers of travelling to Goa - especially for women - are long known.

Back in 2008, the assault of a British woman in the city brought the issue to international attention.

"I was abducted by a stranger and taken to an isolated place. And my attacker said he wanted to kill me," said the victim, named as Sarah, in a report by the BBC. Sarah, which was not her real name, had accepted a ride on a motorcycle and was subsequently raped. "She is just one victim among thousands. The numbers are horrifying," the report noted.

Another British woman was attacked in Goa in 2008, but didn't escape with her life.

Scarlett Keeling (15) was raped and then found dead on Anjuna beach in February 17, 2008.

Scarlett was on a six-month holiday with her mother, her mother's boyfriend and seven siblings and half-siblings.

She stayed on in the hippie town of Anjuna while her family travelled on to the neighbouring state of Karnataka.

She later reconnected with her family in Gokarna on India's west coast, but asked her mother if she could return to Anjuna to attend a Valentine's Day party.

Her mother agreed. Fiona MacKeown later said she would "regret it for as long as I live".

Online travel websites and blogs are inundated with horror stories about abductions, attempted abductions and serious sexual assaults.

There are also tips to stay safe for women who want to visit the city.

Official Government sources have also noted the specific dangers faced by women, both in Goa and India as a whole.

"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 UK's foreign travel advice website warns.

"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."

More than 34,000 cases of rape were reported in 2015, according to the country's National Crime Bureau.

Irish Independent

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