Another young Indian woman published a testimony in a Wall Street Journal blog showing that India is still very far from an equality between the sexes.
But I’m not really surprised.
I went to India at the beginning of the year. Alone. My trip was organized. But I had to travel with a driver alone most of the time, even if he was following a group of other people who were never far from our car.
On the road, I met quite a few women traveling on their own. They were French or British. Traveling very low key. Most of the travel guides have various warnings for women traveling alone. And also, when I arrived in India, one guy at the hotel where I was staying handed me a leaflet for the tourists, mentioning about the proper clothes and attitudes we should adopt in the country.
The Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, located in the North of the country, are known for not being that tolerant with tourists, unlike in the South.
The woman conditions in those regions, particularly in the rural villages of Rajasthan, are still very dire.
Once, we stopped on our way to Bikaner to have a rest. And while we were chatting, I could see a man throwing stones on a woman in a field nearby. Around me, I could see men playing cards or discussing or sleeping, while their women were working hard in the field nearby.
In the city of Bikaner, it wasn’t better.
In Jodhpur, I met in the bazaar the only woman who holds a spice shop. She inherited it from her father who died of a heart attack. She told me it was really hard for her when she started to run the shop, because other men didn’t respect her. But the tourists flock to her shop, where she is more than welcoming and kind to every of her visitors.
In Jaipur, I wanted to walk a bit on my own, much to my driver’s dismay. In the streets, I realized I was the only woman, but no one came bothering me. To be fair, I never left my sunglasses off. I felt much secure having it on my nose during my travel.
I didn’t have the time to visit Delhi before going back to my country. But I could see, near the gate of India, young Indian couples very modern compared to what I just saw in Rajasthan.
Yet, on my way back, I met a filmmaker who was traveling back to New York. She told me she went to see her mom in Delhi. I asked her if she considered living here in Delhi, but she replied she felt much better off in New York. Because of the culture. She was still young, and single. I guess it’s easier to be single in New York than in Delhi.