Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia | Society | South Asia

Helping Women Travel Alone Amid India’s Rape Problem

Malini Gowrishankar’s start-up encourages women to travel by themselves, without fear.

When the inhuman gang-rape of a 23-year-old Delhi woman in 2012 shook India, a woman in the southern city of Bengaluru responded in an extremely counterintuitive manner. A techie and a voice-over artist at the time, Malini Gowrishankar, a single mother, didn’t want women to confine themselves within the four walls of their homes or seek refuge in the company of the men in their families to deal with the fear that followed the incident. So she founded F5 Escapes, a travel agency that seeks to change the way women travel in India.

Bengaluru-based broadcast journalist Vasanthi Hariprakash speaks to Gowrishankar in this video for The Diplomat. The two women discuss how women can leave their families behind and travel safely. India is safe, Gowrishankar assures her clients, all women. Her startup has safety measures in place, keeping in mind India’s society, culture, and the rising crime of sexual abuse. The country is safe not only for Indian women, but also for foreign tourists, Gowrishankar says.