Rape Fears Plague Indian Tourism

Several countries have updated their travel advisories to warn tourists of the threat of sexual assault when traveling to India. The South Asian country has made headlines in recent weeks and months following a spate of rape cases involving travelers and locals alike.

In the most recent incident, a 25-year-old British woman threw herself off her hotel balcony to escape a sexual assault. The woman was sleeping in a hotel in the tourist city of Agra, when the owner of the hotel burst into her room in the middle of the night demanding a massage before trying to assault her. The terrified woman jumped from her first floor balcony, and is now in the hospital suffering two broken legs and head injuries.This latest attack comes on the back of the vicious gang rape of a Swiss woman last Friday. The 39-year-old was camping in the temple town of Orchha with her husband when a gang of men arrived, armed with sticks. The men beat up the husband before tying the woman to a tree and attacking her. According to police, the woman said she was raped by up to seven or eight men.

But it’s not just travelers who face the threat of being molested in the subcontinent. Three months ago, a 23-year-old Indian medical student was killed after five men raped her on a bus before throwing her from the moving vehicle in the Indian capital, New Dehli. The deadly attack sent shockwaves across the country, spurring protests and a call for tougher laws against sexual assault.

However, any changes are too little too late for the country’s tourism industry, which is bracing itself for the fallout. Both the UK and Switzerland have issued travel advisories warning about the rise in sexually motivated crimes across the country.

What do you think? Would you still visit India despite the latest attacks?

[Photo credit: Flickr user McKay Savage]

Video of the day: skateboarding in South Asia

Visualtraveling – ‘Holy Cow’ from Patrik Wallner on Vimeo.

Visualtraveling created this ten minute film piece titled ‘Holy Cow’ with footage from travels centered around skateboarding in South Asia. The documented journey took place over the course of a month. This video features, primarily, awesome shots of skateboarders boarding in cool places, doing neat things with their skateboards–the kinds of things I most certainly do not know how to do. The video also features non-skateboarding things. Stunning landscape shots, interesting architecture, bright colors, unique cars and other vehicles, and crowds of spectators complete this ‘skateboarding’ video which, like so many skateboarding videos, is equally functional as a travel video.

Photo of the Day (8.31.10)

I think that the best travel photography is the kind that captures a unique instance of the human experience and opens it up for further discussion. It intrigues the viewer to ask questions, to delve deeper and to examine the unfamiliar. It refuses to let you look away or ignore the subject. For me, this moment captured by e.r.g.o in Sri Lanka does exactly that.

The festival being photographed is called the Esala Perahera (festival of the tooth), which takes place in the city of Maha Nuvara (Kandy) in July or August. The man seen here is swallowing a burning coal as a display of relentless faith.

The image is part of a series from e.r.g.o during a three year stint in the South Asian island country. He notes “This project is my farewell to Sri Lanka. Of the six images, some are pretty and nice, while others are ugly and harsh. This has been my Sri Lanka experience.” The full series (with a couple extras from Melbourne) can be viewed here.

Do you have a story to tell with photos to prove it? Submit to our Gadling Flickr Pool & it could be tomorrow’s Photo of the Day!

Show Us that Betel Nut Smile

While a coffee or cigarette habit might leave a stain on your teeth, that dull yellow hue is nothing compared to the effect of the betel nut. The juice produced while chewing this mild stimulant can lead to red, or even black, teeth. As a result, most urban young people in East and South Asia refrain from the age-old habit, opting for vices like smoking which do not do so much damage to outward appearances until later in life. But for older people and some country-folk, the tradition of chewing continues.

But what does betel nut (also called areca nut) do for you? Aside from having important symbolism in many cultures (it is often used at weddings as a sign of love and longevity), it provides a buzz similar to drinking an espresso. Though the nut, which is often chewed wrapped in a betel leaf, is natural, it has been linked to cancer in several medical studies.

With the sheer number of pictures of betel nut chewers smiling, one might think that perhaps the health risks and tooth discoloration are worth it. Though the U.S. has tried to control the import of betel with heavy taxes, it is still available in many Asian grocery stores.