Places to Avoid as a Woman Traveler

Brazilian Rape Suspects

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As a woman traveler, especially if you travel solo, you have to be aware of your surroundings for your own safety. At certain times you also have to be aware of what countries not to visit.

The death of a 23-year-old woman, whose first name is Asha, which resulted from a gang rape in Delhi, have alerted many women that cultural norms are something that one should take note when traveling to a foreign country. India, a major tourist destination because of it's amazing history, architecture and diverse geography, also has a culture that is not accommodating towards women. Indian women were revolted by the horrific injuries that Asha was made to suffer as she was brutally raped for hours. The doctors who have treated her have never seen a rape victim so brutalized, according to a Newsweek article. The pair were stripped of their clothing and dumped on the street the morning after. The friend called for help but the police did not reach them for some time and nobody else helped them. It was the brutality and the indifference that drove women and men to mount a huge protest against the government for its inability to protect women and slow prosecution of rapists and a culture that treated women as second class citizens. The world saw that Indian women had suffered rapes on a frequent basis and the police didn't treat these women with any respect or made efforts to prosecute the offenders. Not long after that, there was a story of a young Swiss couple who were biking the Indian countryside in Madhya Pradesh. They camped out in the evening when they were attacked by young Indian men from a nearby village. The males gangraped the woman after they beat up her husband. There was also the British woman in Agra who leapt out of her second story hotel room to avoid the hotel manager who was forcing his way into her room at 3:45am. The number of tourists who visited India, declined by 30%, according to the most recent statistics.

Sarai Sierra, a young mother from New York, went to Turkey for a photographic adventure. An avid amateur photographer, Sarai, eagerly looked forward to her trip. When she arrived in Turkey, she made sure to skype her family each night so that they knew she would be safe. Except for the last evening before her return trip home. Sarai that day, went on visit to Istanbul's ancient walls and took a walk near the train tracks. A Turkish transient with a criminal record, Ziya Tasali, noticed her and followed. He bashed her head in when she resisted his advances. Turkey is a modern country but still has a very traditional culture where women don't go around alone by themselves but are always accompanied either with a male family member or other women.

An American exchange student and her boyfriend, a French exchange student took a public transport van from their Copacobana beach neighborhood to reach downtown Rio. The three rapists forced the other occupants to leave the van, beat up the French student and took turns raping the American while the van was being driven by the other. The two students were dumped out of the van in the morning to make their way to the nearest consulate and then a hospital. The American had to take a concoction of morning-after pills and other medicine to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The three rapists were caught and it was discovered that these three had previously committed a rape on a Brazilian girl and had committed other crimes. Rio is known for its high crime rates.

I am not saying that all female tourists should avoid India, Turkey, and Brazil. However, I would caution women not to go out alone and to be very careful at night, it's important that women be aware and protect themselves. In developing countries, which are usually very traditional, many American women are considered loose, because of the American programs that they see. In addition, many traditional cultures consider women who drink and wear minimal clothing as easy.

Also, for Americans, traveling in Latin American countries, there is resentment towards Americans, because they are seen as rich and privileged. They don't know that you're an ordinary working Jane who saved for the trip.

Here are some other tips:

  • Consult any travel advisories issued by your government
  • Register with your local embassy, if there is one
  • Dress conservatively
  • Pick a hotel that is located in a busy spot that is well-lit in the evening
  • Carry a rubber doorstop to wedge into your door in your hotel room
  • Always watch your drink, especially when it's being prepared, and then don't get drunk
  • Don't tell anyone where you are staying
  • Don't make eye contact - in some places that's an invitation

I always wish that female solo travelers didn't have to take extra precautions, but that's not realistic.




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Comments 8 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Excellent advice! Hopefully many will read this and be prepared.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 3 years ago from The East Coast Author

Hi billybuc, the tips are good for the male solo travelers as well.


karthikkash profile image

karthikkash 3 years ago from India

People should be aware of one thing about India. India as a whole country is beautiful. In fact, you will find some of the friendliest people in the world, compared to many western countries.

However, there are certain cities to be avoided. Or rather, be extremely cautious about. Delhi is one such city. Unfortunately, it is also the crime capital of India. The state government also seems to be indifferent to crimes there involved in its own politics (coming from India, I myself would hate going to Delhi any time). People are known to be arrogant (capital city of India does come with an arrogant mentality).

The thing one must be cautious about is the culture. India, as modern as it is, hasn't completely opened up yet. Naturally, when you come to India, you will have to be more careful about where you wander alone, especially at nights.


john000 profile image

john000 3 years ago from Superior, Arizona

American society is overwhelmed with considerations about fairness and equal treatment - sometimes reaching a level that is questionable.

This well-written article will give the reader an idea of the way much of the world thinks. Don't make the mistake of believing that all cultures have the same degree of respect for human life. It just ain't so.

Voted up and etc. Thanks.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 3 years ago from The East Coast Author

Thank you for your insight karthikkash. Many Americans tend to forget that customs in others countries, even in Europe, are not as easygoing as it is here.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 3 years ago from The East Coast Author

Thank you for the compliment johnooo. I think one of the things I was struck by during my travels was how the status of women in most developing countries is fragile. These women really do have to depend on the kindness of male strangers.


john000 profile image

john000 3 years ago from Superior, Arizona

It is great that you took up this subject. I too have noticed the subservient status of women, but in southeast Asia. My only thought is that sometimes, though not perfect, U.S. citizens are critical of our culture to the point of destruction. Males and females have much to lose if we lose respect for each other. Each must defend the other in order to really make this a "good" world.


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 3 years ago from The East Coast Author

I think most non-Americans are unprepared for the frankness when we see a problem in other people's society. We tend to be self-critical as well. Solutions are much easier if it can be pinpointed.

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