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Opinion: Goa is no rape capital

The media has been too quick to vilify all of Goa for a few, isolated instances of sexual misconduct.

Admittedly, Anjuna and Vagator beaches in North Goa and Palolem beach in South Goa are known for nudity, and the odd foreign tourist strolling without a speck of clothes on can be seen on almost every beach in Goa, even though the law forbids nudity.

Notice boards announce this law to the world and warn of penal action. But, that is only on paper. I haven't heard of anyone arrested for nudity. Who has the guts to the do it? Tourism is king of the land and sea, of the sand and surf.

Goa's heart and soul is distinct from these so-called "free love" beaches, but their growing influence threatens a way of life.

Hordes of local tourists come to Goa from neighboring states to ogle at the scantily clad and naked foreigners. Coastal village children drop out of school and end up drug pushers or addicts after becoming involved with the beach party scene. These are side effects of tourism-related vices.

Many Goans want to steer clear of these beaches. A Goan planning a family beach vacation does his homework before taking off, in order to avoid the nudists and the party scene.

Western permissiveness is a problem that threatens a culture. It can easily be misinterpreted by locals and Indians from other states; it may have even led to some stray incidents of sexual assault. But rape has nothing to do with how a victim is dressed.

After Mascarenhas commented on what foreigners wear, there has been much discussion of a "bikini ban" that would limit how much skin a foreigner is allowed to show. This proposed ban will have no effect on problems of sexual misconduct because whether or not someone is dressed in a bikini is not the reason she is raped.

Rape is a crime of power, control and dominion over another. It happens everywhere in the world, and everywhere in the world where it happens it is a heinous act.

Armstrong Vaz has been a journalist in Goa for the last 20 years, having worked for different Indian newspapers including the Herald, Navhind Times and Gomantak Times. He covers tourism and sports.