Rape is the fastest growing crime in India. Reports of molesting of foreign tourists keep pouring in from various corners of the country.
Alarmed, the federal government has called for consultations with states to review safety and security measures for visitors from abroad.
There have been at least a dozen cases of molestation and rape of foreigners in the first couple of weeks of 2008.
The latest such incident has been reported from Kumarakom in 'God's own country' Kerala in southern India, where two minor girls from Canada on a holiday were molested by a security guard of a hotel.
In other very recent cases, a British journalist was allegedly raped by the owner of a guest house in Udaipur and an American tourist was molested at a temple in Pushkar, both being major tourist destinations in Rajasthan.
These incidents have raised serious concern in the Union tourism ministry, which is apprehensive that its high-profile 'Incredible India' campaign abroad would be adversely affected by the bad publicity resulting from such cases.
Tourism Minister Ambika Soni is said to have taken serious note of the incidents and called for a consultation with state governments on the measures to be adopted to counter such trends.
Already travel advisories issued by many western nations like US,UK, Canada and France include warnings on the law and order situation in India.
They have specifically warned women tourists about the possibility of physical harassment and molestation in major tourism destinations like Delhi, Agra ,Goa and Himachal Pradesh.
In Kerala the shocked Canadian family chose to leave the Kumarakom resort after the assault on their girls, aged 12 and 14.
On the New Year's Eve, two native girls were molested on the Fort Kochi beach.
The nation is yet to recover from the new year eve molestation of two women in the commercial metropolis of Mumbai.
A 58-year-old principal was arrested on Saturday on charges of molesting a minor girl in a school in the national capital of New Delhi.
Indeed, the latest crime statistics, pertaining to 2006, released by the Home Ministry's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that every hour 18 women become victims of crime.
The number of rapes a day has increased nearly 700 per cent since 1971 — when such cases were first recorded by NCRB. It has grown from seven cases a day to 53.
The figure grew 5.5 per cent over the number of cases registered in 2005.
In comparison, all other crimes have grown by 300 per cent since 1953 when the NCRB started keeping records.
And these are just the cases that have been reported; the number of unreported cases is far higher.
According to NCRB figures, among 35 cities with a population of more than a million, Delhi topped the list of crimes against women with 4,134 cases (nearly one-fifth of the total crimes against women). One-third of the rapes and a fifth of the molestations took place in the city. Hyderabad was second most dangerous for women with 1,755 cases.
Among the states, Andhra Pradesh had the highest number of crimes committed against women — 21,484 cases or 13 per cent of the total cases in 2006. Uttar Pradesh was a close second, with 9.9 per cent of such crimes. Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases, at 2,900, and also molestation cases.
Records reveal that 7,618 women were killed for dowry in 2006, an increase of 12.2 per cent over 2005. Uttar Pradesh with 1,798 cases had the highest number of such deaths, followed by Bihar with 1,188 cases.
According to official sources, Union Tourism Secretary S.Banerjee has written to tourism secretaries of all states regarding the recent media reports about harassment of women tourists. Reminding them about the Centre's concern for the safety of foreign as well as domestic tourists, he recalled that the ministry had earlier asked them to deploy special police at popular tourist sites. Only 10 states have acted on the recommendation so far, reports the Hindustan Times.