Congratulations Maneka Gnadhi
A few days ago a global survey conducted by Canadian mass media and information firm Thomson Reuters indicated that India "is the most dangerous country for women". Though many have vehemently denied the findings of the study, there's a sense of growing fear in the minds of people travelling to India.
It seems that it's not just the tourists but sports persons, too, who are not feeling too comfortable about playing in India. Switzerland's top junior girls' squash player Ambre Allinckx is one of them. After Chennai was named as the venue for the 2018 World Junior Squash Championship, the parents of Amber decided not to allow their 16-year old daughter to participate in the tournament.
"Ambre is our country's No. 1 junior and she had reached the third place play-off in the European Junior Championship in March. But unfortunately her parents did not allow her to come to India to play this tournament after reading stories on the internet about heinous crimes against girls. I tried to plead with them because this is a World Championship and I felt she had a very good chance but they were adamant and I could not argue further because it is after all the safety of their child," Swiss junior national coach Pascal Bruhin said on Thursday.
Ambre is not a case in isolation, there are parents of other girls who were not comfortable about sending their daughters to India for the tournament. A member of the USA contingent who did not wish to disclose her name said that she was told by her folks back home that the short skirt that she has to wear while playing "would attract unwanted attention from men in Chennai".
While such apprehension could well be a case of over-reaction, it can be recalled that a Russian tourist was raped in Tiruvannamalai last week. Even a German tourist had to face similar ordeal in Mamallapuram last year and it didn't do anything to enhance the reputation of Tamil Nadu being a safe destination for foreign tourists.
Australian player Alex Haydon, too, said she doesn't feel safe going out alone in the city and always travels in a group - that too never without a male member of her contingent. According to Kay Kendall, the coach and manager of Australia, their federation had given them safety instructions before the tour.
"We prepared some guidelines for the girls to follow in order to ensure they are safe. They are not allowed to travel outside the hotel premises or the venue without a male member of the contingent. They are also instructed to get on the bus in groups of three. But at the same time we ensure that too many instructions do not set off the panic button because they need to enjoy the tournament with an open mind," Kendall said.