Local business owner says tourists should take precautions when travelling in India (Reuters)

Indian men are often encouraged to rape Western women after getting the "wrong signal" from their friendly behaviour, according to a restaurant owner.

Farhang Jehani, who owns the Leopold Café in the Colaba district of Mumbai, spoke to in the wake of two high-profile rape cases involving female tourists visiting India.

Last month a Swiss woman on a cycling holiday with her husband was allegedly raped by eight men while he was beaten in a village named Datia, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, a British woman was injured after she jumped from a window in an attempt to escape being sexually assaulted by a man said to have forced his way into her hotel room.

In an attempt to explain the recent spate of attacks, Jehani said that the good manners displayed by female visitors often make them a target for rapists.

"[Female tourists] behave very well. It's not a question of them not behaving. They are friendly and that's the problem with India - we take it as a wrong signal and that's the whole thing.

"Indian men take it as a wrong signal and take it as the wrong way."

Jehani said women travelling alone or in a couple should be cautious.

"Be careful - don't get too friendly with strangers. If you have something to eat and drink with them be careful.

"If you're in a group it's OK because you're protected by other people but if you're single or in a couple avoid that kind of get-together."

Jehani said there are many parts of India that are safe, but that the experience may be different in Delhi, where a 23-year-old was gang raped and murdered last year.

Government warnings

"I have seen a lot of beautiful young girls coming and they are quite comfortable and they come in groups. For Bombay I feel is a safe place but Delhi I cannot say much about it.

"These incidents don't happen over here. You don't call them [rapists] human beings - you call them animals. India is still a safe country... it is still safe for women.

"I have not been worried [about bad publicity] because these things happen more in Delhi and other places and not in Mumbai so much. Mumbai is a safe place.

"Every corner of Bombay is quite populated whereas in Delhi I noticed the streets are quite isolated, on that basis the chances of these things happening are more possible."

Last month, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office offered updated advice for women travelling in India.

It said: "Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk.

"British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.

"If you are a woman travelling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day.

"Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi, get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports."