How Female Travelers Should Respond to Sexual Harassment on the Road
It seems like in this age of the #MeToo movement, an unparalleled dirt has been unearthed not only in the entertainment industry but in other facets of society as well. We now come face to face with the reality – to which most of us have turned a blind eye for years – that sexual harassment happens in almost every aspect of our daily lives. For solo female travelers, the risk of being subjected to different kinds of harassments on the road rang louder than ever. It is difficult enough to find oneself in an unfamiliar place, though while that adds to the charms of traveling, the chances of being catcalled, groped and flashed by sexual perverts definitely add a layer of danger to women travelers all over the world.
What can be done to avoid these from happening? Unfortunately, nobody can control the actions of perpetrators of these type of sleazy actions. What female travelers can do is to remain brave and aware of their surroundings all the time, plus taking note of these additional tips we listed below.
Be Vigilant as Sexual Harassment Can Happen Anytime and Anywhere
If you would look at the case of disgrace film producer Harvey Weinstein, his female victims told about abuses happening inside offices, apartments, restaurants and even hotel hallways. One cannot predict when and where a sexual predator can strike.
Angeline sees the world one country at a time. Photo courtesy of Travel Moments
Female traveler Angeline Ibarra recounts a tormenting episode in one of her trips.
“Traveling alone can be daunting, especially for a solo female traveler. On the occasions when I travel alone, safety on the road is one of my concerns. I remember years ago when I was traveling on a “chicken bus” in a very local area of Rajasthan, India. The bus was full of locals and it stopped in almost every town with locals getting on and off. At one of the stops, a man got on and looked directly at my seat. He then stood directly beside me even when there were vacant seats on the other side. I didn’t mind it until I saw him start touching himself”
Angeline could have remained frozen in her seat and that would be understandable as shock always left us unable to think clearly, but her presence of mind saved her from further abuse – which takes us to the second must-do in moments like this.
Gather courage and call the attention of others
Angeline did the right thing when things started to become creepy. “I stood up, shouted for the conductor and pointed at the guy. Many of the locals looked at him and the conductor came. The bus stopped and the man was kicked out”
Feeling shaken, Angeline was able to weave herself out of a possible dangerous situation by gathering her courage to seek help. “I was disgusted that this could happen in a public place. This kind of harassment can happen anywhere around the world. As a solo traveler, we need to have enough courage to call out things that make us uncomfortable and enough fear to be present and cautious but this shouldn’t ever stop us from traveling and experiencing all the world has to offer” Angeline adds.
Do not respond to catcallers
While Angeline was correct in shouting for help because her harasser was able to get close to her, catcallers within a hearing distance should be avoided and ignored at all cost. One thing with catcallers are they tend to like it when they are being responded to.
Aleah has been to multiple dozens of countries ever since she was bitten by the travel bug Photo courtesy of Solitary Wander
Popular travel blogger Aleah Taboclaon offers a similar advice. “Whenever I’m traveling or just walking around in my city, there’s one thing I do whenever I experience non-contact harassment on the road: I ignore them. I act as if I haven’t seen them or heard them. What those lowlifes want is attention, and the minute you give it to them, they are satisfied. When you ignore them, they don’t get what they want. This is the most common form of harassment I experience when I travel, and ignoring is always my best defense”
Plan your trip thoroughly
It is important as a solo traveler to plan your trip methodically. This includes booking the accommodation situated in a highly recommended area of the city you are visiting. Try to avoid staying at hostels in dodgy places such as a dimly lit street far from the center. Read reviews of the place you are booking and plan your itinerary by plotting the way to train stations and other means of transportation.
Do not go to a ‘second location’
Most perpetrators of sexual assaults prefer to invite their victims to a ‘second location’ where they feel they can easily commit the assault on you. When you meet someone new and you get invited to come to another place, remain firm by saying ‘No’.
Make new friends while remaining vigilant
In other instances, having friends around surely helps in staving off sexual perpetrators. Exercising vigilance, being well prepared and open to new positive experiences can help you heaps – in terms of safety – on the road.
April Cuenca’s start-up Tripkada offers a safer way of traveling by providing a platform for like-minded wanderers to travel together
Photo Courtesy of Tripkada
Tripkada founder April Margaret Cuenca advices “It’s a matter of being prepared and aware at the same time. This is why I like to make friends when I travel, especially when I’m alone. Having people around who can help you definitely helps. Also, I make sure I know the people running the place where I’m staying, local emergency numbers, and where the nearest security guard or authority might be”.
Solo traveling is becoming a much-preferred way of traveling for most people. Being alone on the road though, can also expose you to a number of risks and dangers – especially when it comes to being sexually abused. Do not however, let this scare you from experiencing the joys of traveling. By remembering the tips we listed above, it is paramount to not let any pervert ruin your travel experience. If you have other advices in mind on how one can avoid being sexually harassed on the road, please let us know in the comments section.