India Travel Safety

Is PDA (Public Display of Affection) Safe in India?

Yesterday I was shocked to read that two Swiss tourists had been attacked by 3 teen and 2 adult men near the impressive Fatehpur Sikri fort. The reason they were severely beaten shows the risks of PDA (Public Display of Affection) in India.

In large Indian cities, it’s common to see couples holding hands, hugging, and in nearly all large parks hiding behind trees or bushes doing more. People are more liberally minded in the cities. But in smaller rural towns like Fatehpur Sikri (near Agra and the Taj Mahal), the mentality of people, especially men, is very conservative.

Youths harass Swiss couple in Agra, then thrash them brutally
The Swiss couple being treated at a local hospital.

You can see their mentality in attacker’s explanation, “We saw them getting intimate… We thought that the couple was doing something which they shouldn’t.” They thought they saw the Swiss couple doing something they shouldn’t, like kissing or cuddling, so they took it upon themselves to thrash the couple until they were lying lifeless on the dusty ground. In India, this is called moral policing.

The man suffered a blood clot and fractured skull and the women a broken arm, amongst the bruising and bleeding.

Their reasoning most likely makes absolutely no sense to foreigners. To them though, they saw people doing something they consider morally wrong, so they took it upon themselves to police the issue. They were also offended that the couple would not take selfies with them after they’d passed comments at the couple. Mob rule and moral policing still happen in India. The good news is the attackers were caught quickly by Police.

This is one of the reasons you don’t see PDA in India. As a foreigner in India, it’s certainly best to avoid PDA, especially outside of the main cities.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

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