Women Canceling Trips to India

Women hold placards as they march during a rally organized by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (unseen) protesting for justice and security for women, in New Delhi January 2, 2013. India approved on March 21, 2013 a tougher new law to punish sex crimes, including death for repeat rape offenders, after the fatal gang rape of a student in December sparked unprecedented protests over the treatment of women in the country. Photo: ADNAN ABIDI/Reuters/Corbis

A string of high-profile sexual assaults in India has had a noticeable effect on tourism. In the three months since the gang rape and death of a New Delhi student captured international media attention and galvanized sexual assault legislation reform, the number of foreign tourists in India has dropped 25 percent compared with the same period last year, according to The Wall Street Journal. Seventy-two percent of tour operators said women travelers (mostly from Western countries) had canceled bookings, according to a survey of 1,200 tour operators by India’s Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The December death of the 23-year-old physiology student shed light on the institutional failures of India’s government and police in prosecuting rapists and was quickly followed by two more high-profile attacks. A Swiss woman was allegedly gang-raped while camping with her husband, and a British woman jumped from the balcony of her hotel room in order to avoid a hotel manager who was sexually harassing her. Here's hoping India's $17.74 billion tourism industry, if nothing else, proves motivational for the country's leaders.