This is what I read in a site which caters to Western Women visiting India - particular advice for North India while South India was rated much more laid back, friendly, and respectful :
- Learn to ignore everyone around you unless you have a specific reason to speak with someone.
- Don't meet people's eyes - especially men.
- Don't chat very much with random guys. Indian women don't do that and neither do they look at men. In fact most Indian women completely ignore the presence of men and just go about their business. (!!!)
- Maintain your distance from any man - very young to very old. At least three to four feet. That's how much space Indian women maintain between themselves and an unrelated male.
- Don't wear clothes that expose the shoulders, that are tight across the chest, don't expose legs, no strappy dresses, etc. Salwars or just pants and a long cotton top are comfortable and appropriate.
- If anyone asks you about a boyfriend or husband, say yes, you are married for years and he is in Mumbai or somewhere else and you are visiting friends in whichever town you happen to be in. Or just act completely deaf when the topic comes up. Most Indian women do not answer personal questions and keep quiet to indicate that the question was no appropriate.
- Learn a few words of the local language like help, water, toilet, etc. When in doubt about something, ask another woman or a couple.
- If you will wear salwar kameez (that "Punjabi suit" you'll see women wearing -- baggy pants, baggy shirt and a scarf which is not optional -- you'll give people the silhouette that they are used to seeing and will avoid a lot of unwanted attention from the bold and sex-starved men who will approach you.
- You should also avoid being alone on dark streets at night, and private contact with strange men. Just because they are wearing shirt and trousers instead of a longhi doesn't mean a man has the capacity for the sort of friendship you and I are used to from Western men -- so don't expect that.
- Meet cyberpals in public, in daylight if possible... always. Even at home, this is kind of like saying "don't take candy from strangers" but every once in a while we need that reminder.
- If you're lost or need to know what time it is, ask the nearest woman. Her husband will answer, but direct your conversation at HER. (WOW!!! This is enlightening!)
- If someone touches you, slap him! Scream "pervert"! Take off your shoe and threaten him with that! But that's a last resort -- better to avoid those situations when possible.
- If you are on a train and someone asks if they may please sit on your berth while you sleep -- tell him that you know he would never want anyone to ask his sister that same thing and to forget that idea.
All this being said, you will have a more difficult time in North India than in the South of India. North Indian men are more aggressive towards women - not just foreigners, other Indians too.
Perhaps a burkah would be the answer to our woes in India!!!
But guess what - although the NIMs win this hands down, guess, burkhas are not able to protect these women -
Pakistan, women are gang-raped as punishment for men’s crimes.
Somalia, a vicious civil war has put women, who were the traditional mainstay of the family, under attack. In a society that has broken down, women are exposed daily to rape, dangerously poor health care for pregnancy, and attack by armed gangs.
Nepal Early marriage and childbirth exhaust the country’s malnourished women, and one in 24 will die in pregnancy or childbirth. Daughters who aren’t married off may be sold to traffickers before they reach their teens. Widows face extreme abuse and discrimination if they’re labeled bokshi, meaning witches.
Mali, where few women escape the torture of genital mutilation, many are forced into early marriages, and one in 10 dies in pregnancy or childbirth.
Afghanistan More than half of all brides are under 16, and one woman dies in childbirth every half hour. Domestic violence is so common that 87 per cent of women admit to experiencing it. But more than one million widows are on the streets, often forced into prostitution.
Daughters of Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera outlines in painful detail the horrific stories of women abused and suffering... 'I listen to those stories -- told by women who have been drugged, beaten, imprisoned, raped and terrorised within the walls of the homes they grew up in. I listen and I am humbled by their resilience', she says. It is a long drawn battle - one which is being fought in various parts of the world, behind closed doors and in open grounds, in darkness and in light, in public view and in private; it is a battle without ammunition but the wounds are equally deep, the cries deeply painful and abuse and death as real... Every defeat in this war must be deeply mourned and every victory celebrated and recounted deftly and without apology.