Addressing Sexual Harassment Against Foreigners in India: A Call for Collective Action



         India, a nation steeped in history and cultural diversity, has made significant strides in various domains, yet one stark reality persists—sexual harassment. This pervasive issue cuts across societal strata and impacts individuals of all genders. As we unravel the complex layers of this problem, it becomes evident that addressing sexual harassment is not just a legal imperative but a societal responsibility.

        Sexual harassment manifests in multifaceted forms, ranging from verbal abuse and unwanted advances to more severe acts of assault and violence. It permeates public spaces, workplaces, educational institutions, and private domains, creating an environment where individuals, particularly women, may feel vulnerable and marginalized. 

        Understanding the dynamics of sexual harassment in India requires an exploration of cultural, legal, and systemic factors that contribute to its prevalence. This article aims to shed light on the nuanced landscape of sexual harassment within the Indian context, examining the challenges faced by survivors, the legal framework in place, and the evolving societal dialogue around this critical issue. As we embark on this exploration, it is crucial to recognize the collective responsibility to foster an environment where everyone can live and work without fear of harassment, and where survivors are supported with empathy and justice.

Case Studies

“Foreign National Adds to Growing List of Accusations Against Kochi Tattoo Artist”

         Kochi-based tattoo artist Sujeesh PS has been accused of sexual harassment, with a new complaint from a foreign national who visited his tattoo parlour, Inkfected, in 2019. The complaint alleges that Sujeesh asked her to remove her T-shirt and bra during the tattooing process, claiming it was part of the procedure.

        The complainant also claims that Sujeesh continued to touch her inappropriately, leaving her traumatized. The complaint has been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Ernakulam, and a First Information Report (FIR) is expected to be registered under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.

       The complaint follows a pattern consistent with previous accusations against Sujeesh, with multiple women reporting similar experiences. The allegations gained prominence after an 18-year-old shared her alleged rape experience on a Reddit post, sparking a wave of disclosures from other victims. The #MeToo movement against Sujeesh underscores the importance of addressing sexual harassment and assault in all sectors of society.

“Bulgarian Flight Attendant Seeks Justice: Gujarat HC Petition Alleges Police Apathy in Rape and Harassment Case”

        A 27-year-old Bulgarian flight attendant has filed a petition with the Gujarat High Court, alleging that state police have failed to register an FIR regarding rape and harassment accusations against the Chief Managing Director of a local pharmaceutical company. The flight attendant claims to have faced obstacles in getting her case registered with the police, and her plea underscores the challenges faced by survivors seeking legal recourse and raises questions about the responsiveness of law enforcement agencies in such matters.

        The flight attendant’s grievance lies in the apparent reluctance of the state police to initiate legal proceedings against the accused CMD. Despite her efforts to report the incident and seek justice through established legal channels, the police have not registered an FIR, leaving her without the recourse to a formal investigation and legal proceedings.

        The flight attendant’s pursuit of justice highlights the critical role of the legal system in addressing cases of sexual violence and harassment, emphasizing the importance of a timely and unbiased response from law enforcement agencies to ensure survivors feel heard and held accountable. The outcome of this legal battle will likely have broader implications for the handling of cases involving foreign nationals within the Indian legal framework.

Incident and Causes

        Sexual harassment is a global issue that affects individuals of all nationalities and locations. In India, incidents of sexual harassment can occur in public spaces like markets, public transportation, and tourist destinations. Foreigners working in India may also face sexual harassment in the workplace, including unwelcome advances, inappropriate comments, or other forms of misconduct. Cultural differences can contribute to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of behavior, leading to uncomfortable situations.

        Challenges include underreporting of sexual harassment due to fear of retaliation, stigma, or lack of confidence in the legal system. Cultural sensitivity can complicate the resolution of harassment issues. There may be a lack of awareness about sexual harassment laws and policies among both locals and foreigners. Educational efforts are ongoing to address this gap and promote a safer environment.

        Language barriers and concerns about police responsiveness can be significant hurdles. India has made efforts to address sexual harassment issues, with laws like the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 covering a broad range of workplaces. Organizations are required to have internal complaints committees to address complaints.

Legal Framework

         The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 is the legal framework for addressing sexual harassment in India. It applies to all women, including foreign nationals, working in public or private sectors. The Act defines sexual harassment broadly, including unwelcome acts or behavior. Organizations with ten or more employees are required to form an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address complaints. Employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment and prevent or deter acts of sexual harassment. The Act prohibits retaliation against complainants for filing a complaint or participating in an inquiry. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, including fines. Foreign nationals working in India have the same protections under the Act. If the organization fails to address the complaint, complainants can approach local authorities.

Preventive Measure and Awareness

Preventing sexual harassment necessitates a multifaceted approach. Public awareness campaigns, targeting both locals and tourists, can contribute to creating a safer environment. Training programs for law enforcement and hospitality industry personnel are vital to equip them with the skills to respond effectively to harassment cases. Initiatives to foster a culture of respect and gender sensitivity can be instrumental in preventing such incidents.

The Role of Embassies

Embassies and consulates play a pivotal role in supporting their citizens who are victims of sexual harassment abroad. They provide guidance on legal procedures, facilitate communication between victims and local authorities, and offer counseling services. Collaborative efforts between embassies and Indian authorities are crucial for a comprehensive and empathetic response.


Addressing sexual harassment against foreigners in india demands a concerted effort from all stakeholders involved. By enhancing legal frameworks, improving awareness, and fostering international cooperation, steps can be taken to create a safer environment for all visitors. It is imperative that these efforts are carried out with sensitivity and a commitment to ensuring justice, empathy, and respect for the rights and dignity of every individual.