Visa restrictions for single women traveling to India; 2) Indian visas for Russian female singles; 3) Female, under 45? – No entry.
In late December 2008, the Russian electronic media brought bad news for female tourists going to India. Reports were circulating that the Indian Embassy in Moscow stopped granting visas to single women under 45 years of age.
India is a popular tourist destination, so when the news came, Internet forums and blogs were awash with angry statements to those behind the idea. Female Hare Krishna devotees were also alarmed fearing that their pilgrimage to holy places like Vrindavan and Mayapur could be under question.
Outraged women complained of social and sex discrimination and were on the phone to travel agencies. The latter though were at a loss with nothing to say, having received no official communication from the Indian Embassy. According to unidentified sources, the new rule was triggered by growing prostitution in Indian tourist resorts such as Goa.
At first, it was rumored that the Embassy didn’t even accept visa applications from single women and that married women had to either travel with their husbands or provide a written declaration from their spouses confirming that they are of good character and that the husband accepts responsibility for the behavior of his wife.
Later the news came that women traveling to India within large groups that included men or those traveling with a boyfriend would not meet any obstacles in getting visas. The problem would only arise for those traveling alone.
Finally, an official from the Indian Embassy confirmed that rules for single female tourists under 45 traveling alone had indeed become somewhat stricter, and such women would have to come to the Embassy for an interview with a visa officer, but that India remains as open as ever for all law-abiding visitors.
Some travel agencies believe that India would not go so far as to create barriers for tourists, since tourism is an important source of income for the country, and that the alarming rumors might have been set afloat by their competitors in order to scare away potential customers and draw their attention to resorts outside of India.