Traveling Woman and Sexual Harassment

Posted by Fico , Sunday, November 1, 2009 6:14 PM

Last night I don't know why I kind of remember movie about a female traveler that traveling with her friend and become victim of kidnapping at her rent house and human trafficking/slavery. Her father who loose contact with her (he is talking on the phone when the kidnapper kidnap his daughter), try to know where his daughter is, by following clue to another clue that shows where his daughter is. He finally find his daughter friend in a brothel house, not even conscious because the kidnapper drug her all the time. Then from there he got info from the kidnapper that his daughter sold to other people (highest bidder) because she is a virgin. I think the movie title is "Taken".



It’s a tragedy, I can’t imagi
ne that to happen to anyone that I know.









Its scare me when I remember the movie. It’s a movie, just a fiction, but it is possible to happen. I travel by my self several time, I know what is it like to be scared by local guys stalk you when you walk to an empty road.



Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, but it can be especially disconcerting when it happens while a woman is traveling. While sexual harassment may always feel like discrimination to you, unfortunately in some areas of the world such behavior is a normal way of life for local men and women.



Before you travel do your research on your destination, and while you are traveling try to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations involving local men. Also be aware that sexual harassment can be perpetrated by tourism officials, so never forget your common sense at all times and in all places while traveling.





1- Know Customs, Culture & Language



Unfortunately, the potential for sexual harassment and intimidation is a reality around the world. Be prepared. Do your networking and research before you leave. Find out as much as you can about the roles of both women and men in the places you plan to visit.







The first step to handling sexual harassment when traveling abroad is; gaining an understanding of customs, culture and language. How do men act when they are being sexually aggressive, and how should women behave if they are pursued by a man? And how can we say "no" effectively in the native language. Not only will this give you ammunition should an uncomfortable situation arise, but it will also give you confidence. Telling someone 'no' isn't always sufficient to make your feelings known, so close yourself off to the other person physically. Walk away, step back from wandering hands, find someone else to talk to, and don't be afraid to push someone away if he or she is getting too friendly. Sometimes you have to make it clear.



Furthermore, if you don't know how men and women typically behave when traveling abroad, you might be a victim of sexual harassment solely based on miscommunication. For example, is it customary for women to make eye contact with men at social engagements? And how much personal space is generally considered acceptable when chatting?



You already know that in any country, prolonged eye contact with a man is an invitation to flirt. In some developing countries or some societies, any eye contact at all may be considered carte blanche to approach you. Eye contact also may be considered disrespectful in some countries and may invite aggressive behavior from strangers. Almost as annoying is that eye contact ensures street buskers will pester you. Talk with local women to learn the rules.



In some male-dominated cultures, it's considered incorrect for a wom
an to travel solo. For these and other potentially challenging destinations, you might want to team up with a companion. Two women traveling together might have an easier time.





2- Watch, Learn, Imitate



Sometimes, the best way to handle sexual harassment when travelling abroad is to pay attention to what other people do in similar situations. For example, if you're sitting alone in a bar or club, watch other men and women and how they interact. When a man becomes too forward, how do the women respond? Noting these cultural differences will help you to respond the same way, and perhaps dissuade a sexually-aggressive suitor before it gets out of control.

Take your cue from the local women. As a general rule, if they don't sit in cafés alone, you shouldn't either. If they aren't wearing sleeveless dresses, neither should you. Never accept car rides or hitchhike. Ask the local hotels to recommend reputable taxis and, whenever possible, try to double up with someone you know when travelling by cab.







Avoid wearing provocative, form-fitting clothing. A woman alone may be considered fair game. Understand this and prepare yourself mentally for any propositions, suggestive comments or catcalls. Then simply ignore them.

Try to blend as much as you can... not that you could change your hair or skin color, but people will respect you more when you try to respect their cultures by simply using their clothes and cover up in some country.



4- Seek Assistance



If sexual harassment occurs in public when travelling abroad, you might do better if you seek assistance from an authority figure, or even just another civilian. For example, if you're in the aforementioned bar or club, find the bouncer or bartender and let him know that you're being harassed. You can even ask what you should do in your situation, or request to use the phone to call a friend or even the police.

Crowded trains and buses can be perfect breeding grounds for antisocial behaviour. Some men will use this opportunity to touch or pinch the female passengers standing close to them. If this happens to you, make a fuss. Point at the offender and chastise him in a loud voice. He'll probably slink away. However, to avoid these types of advances, consider choosing reserved seating. In countries where it is available, take advantage of the female-only section in buses, trains and subways. Use this excellent opportunity to communicate with local women and their children.





5- Know the Neighborhood



When traveling abroad, it is always a good idea to know the layout of the neighbourhood. This way, in the event of sexual harassment, you'll know how to find a police station, a fire house or another safe location from which to seek help. You should also know the emergency number in case things get beyond your control.



In the same case just like my experience the best way is try addressing one man in a loud voice and saying “No !” or “Go away!”. Use body language to convey your message, such as by crossing your arms in front of you, turning your body and/or displaying a frown. If this does now work then, leave the area immediately. Yes, this may be unfair but as the old saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are uncertain of where to go, head for the nearest group of women or a public shop or café in which you can see other women. Making sure other women are on the premises is crucial, however, because to leave a group of men only to plunge into a male-only area would not do you any good.



But sure you wont need to be an uptight personality that much because you will miss the fun of the adventures its self. I know some couple that meet on traveling journey and they are okay. Its just we have to put some limitation/boundaries to several things for our own safety reason.

Here's our smart six for protecting your sexual welfare:

  • Put your safety first at all times. Whether you're at work, in town or on a date, think ahead as much as you can, and avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be clear about boundaries. Everyone has the right to express themselves freely and feel safe from harm. Just be clear about your boundaries to minimize the risk of mixed signals, and if someone oversteps the mark them let them know at the earliest opportunity. Any kind of unwanted sexual advance is inexcusable, of course, but it might prevent such a situation from happening altogether.
  • Alcohol and drugs can lower inhibitions. Be aware of your limits, and cautious of drink offers from people you don't know (to minimize the risk of knocking back something spiked with sedative).
  • Keep good company. Stick with friends where possible, and if you do find yourself with individuals or people you don't know, put your personal safety first. This means thinking one step ahead all the time, and avoiding situations that make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Be street smart. Wherever you are, day or night, it's always worth traveling visibly. This means sticking to populated routes (and well-lit areas at night), and knowing where you're going at all times.
  • Avoid confrontation. Do not meet aggression with aggression, as this is likely to escalate the situation. Talk your way out of problems - stay calm, speak gently, slowly and clearly. If you are trapped or in danger, yell or scream. Your voice is your best defense. Shout, Phone the police or other specific instructions that people can understand easily.




I hope all traveling safe, and have fun !!

4 Response to "Traveling Woman and Sexual Harassment"

Samalona Says:

This is very useful. More people should read this. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

Sirdalmi Says:

Can I add a few from my own experience ?

- Expect everything to go smoothly. Be security aware, not paranoid.

- Appear confident (even if you don't feel that way). I've found that if you look like nothing can bother you, nothing does.

- Don't be affraid to travel single. People will go out of their way to help a lonely girl.

- Enjoy !

Hope this helps. Don't be fooled, I was freaked out the first time I travelled alone. Now I just love it !

Fico Says:

@ Samalona
You're very welcome !

@ Anne
Thanks for the additional. Yes i think it is important for every single girl to travel once-twice on their life time, it sure does change things on their point of view.... so should not afraid to travel solo as you said, cause some people do help solo traveler girl

Lisa Says:

Anywhere where there are more men than women, there's such risk like this, especially here in the USA, not just in India and China. I've learned that men in the USA behave aggressively towards foreign women traveling here and some of these foreign female travelers here are also kidnapped. But even if you're confident and assertive in a highly male-populated country, local males will still strike back because they perceive you as aggressive and domineering.

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