Op-Ed: Goa beach bikini ban a bizarre suggestion Special

Posted Feb 6, 2010 by Armstrong Vaz
Goa: India’s smallest state Goa has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, the recent sexual attack on a 9-year-old Russian girl in Morjim village has resonated far beyond the beaches of this former Portuguese colony till 1961.
Foreign journalists have picked up a quote from here and there and the stray incidents of rape to create an element of sensation for their story.
They cannot be faulted on that count. It’s their job. Controversy sells and the Goa politicians and tourism officials have provided enough fodder for the news corps. But is Goa the place where ‘free love’ thrives. And is it the Rape capital of India, as it is made out to be by provincial minster for Tourism Micky Pacheco For a native Goan, the place still retains the old charm, minus all the vices of tourism, which a small segment of the Goans and Indian have become addicted to.
The real Goa thrives in the villages, the ‘free love ‘zone is restricted to few areas of the state, extending the domain to entire Goa, which the journalists have done, is an insult to the entire Goan society.
For Goans, some of the ‘free love’ beaches remain out of bounds for them, some by choice and others due to policing by foreign tourists. A Goan planning to have a beach side family vacation has to do his survey before taking the plunge, nudism is his biggest headache.
He or she has to keep away the children and family away from the nudists, who sun bath on the beaches. Anjuna, Vagator in North Goa and Palolem in south Goa are notorious for nudism, but stray incidents of foreign tourists strolling without a square cm of cloth on them are noticed on almost all beaches in Goa.
For the law, on paper nudism is banned.
Notice boards at prominent beaches announce it to the world and warn of penal action. But, that is only on paper and not enforced. If my memory serves me right, I have not heard of anyone arrested for nudism. Who has the guts to the do it? Tourist is the king in the land of the sea, sand and the surf.
Hordes of tourists come to Goa from neigbouring states, to ogle at the nude or semi-nude western tourists.
Local coastal village school children drop out and end up as drug pushers and addicts after being perverted by strange things they witness on the beach. That’s another side effect of the tourism related vices.
Is it part of the western permissiveness to recklessly portray sexual ease and promiscuity to the local population, while visiting it as tourists?
Tourists too have an obligation to respect the dress customs and cultural sensitivities of the place.
And it is for the tourism authorities to address the issue. They ought to be clear, on the do and don’t for tourists in Goa. Bikini ban cannot solve the issue, in one stroke of the pen, as some tourism officials and minister believe it to be. It will not serve any purpose, whether on tourism related ads or banning people wearing them on the beach.
The free love clinches and the western permissiveness which some locals and Indians from other states have been misinterpreting has led to some of the stray incidents. It certainly does not give any one the right to rape.
But to deny that a rot has set into the system of governance of Goa will be trying to pull a rug over the eyes. It will not be fair to blame only the police for that. They are part of the cycle of corruption. The virus of bribe taking and bribe giving thrives in all strata of Goan life. Police personnel pay politicians to get into the force. They pay higher ups and also politicians for plumb posting. Lucrative postings are those on the beach belts, at city police stations and on the state borders.
A rape here, a murder there happens everywhere in the world. But , terming Goa as a Rape Capital of India is shooting ones mouth too far, which Pacheho did. And more damage was done by deputy director of tourism Pamela Mascarenhas.
“You can’t blame the locals; they have never seen such women. Foreign tourists must maintain a certain degree of modesty in their clothing. Walking on the beaches half-naked is bound to titillate the senses,” New Delhi’s Mail Today newspaper quoted Mascarhenas, as saying last Friday.
Rape is a crime of power, control, and dominion over another, and has nothing to do with how a victim is dressed. Whether or not she was dressed in a bikini is not the reason she was raped.