Places to Avoid as a Woman Traveler
Brazilian Rape Suspects
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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