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No bikini ban, Goa to unveil beach patrol

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/india/No-bikini-ban-Goa-to-unveil-beach-patrol/Article1-516343.aspx

20 March 2010

Zia Haq, New Delhi:

India’s tourism haven Goa will not ban foreigners from frolicking in bikinis on its beaches, a top state official told HT.

To curb rising sex crimes, the state will unveil a beach patrol force next month, on the lines of Australia, and in six months, a fast-track court to quickly try sexual crimes against tourists.

“Media comments on bikinis are individual views. Goa is a democratic place and the government will never dictate what tourists should wear,” Goa tourism secretary M. Modassir said.

In January, Goa tourism minister Francisco Pacheco had said the government might pull out state-sponsored tourism ads featuring women in swimwear.

Goa’s deputy director of tourism, Pamela Mascarenhas, was also quoted as saying by a Delhi newspaper that foreigners must maintain “modesty”.

Nearly two million tourists visit Goa annually and of these, around 450,000 are foreigners.

Many foreigners have been sexually assaulted in recent years, including British teenager Scarlett Keeling, who was raped and killed at Anjuna beach in February 2008.

On January 27, a nine-year-old Russian girl was abused, weeks after a local businessman was arrested for raping a Russian, sparking protests from the Russian diplomats.

A pamphlet campaign in four languages was being launched, asking foreigners to take the same precautions they would in their home country.

Squads of Goa’s new tourist force will be on patrol till midnight. Towers for overhead beach vigil and lifebuoys to prevent drowning are also being deployed.

“We will do all that is needed. Guilty policemen have been charged,” the official said.