The sad truth of harassment and safety for female travelers
I could see the two guys walking by were eyeing me. I just knew they were going to come up and say something to me.
“Hey, blondie!” one of them yelled as they walked towards me. Somehow no guy has been clever enough to come up with something other than calling me “blondie”.
“Hi…” I said hesitantly. I was rolling my eyes on the inside. I made sure I was still turned toward my friend to show my disinterest.
“Wow, you’re so beautiful,” one of them said.
“Um, thanks.” I coldly responded.
“Can I ask you a favor?” one of them questioned to me. “Will you come back to my place and have sex with me?”
“Excuse me!?” I exclaimed. “What the fuck? No!” My friend and I looked at each other in astonishment. He wasn’t kidding.
“Oh okay then,” he said. “Well, will you at least take a picture with me?” These creepy guys definitely had some nerve.
“Um, NO!” I sternly refused.
For another few minutes they begged me to just talk or take a picture with them. I simply kept refusing until they gave up and walked off. My friend and I were stunned. Luckily I had her by my side, even though neither of us really knew what to do or say.
That same night at the event we were at, a drunk guy followed me around non-stop saying he loved me. At one point he locked his arm around my neck to the point where I couldn’t get out of his grip and he started kissing the side of my face. Once I was able to get away from him, I went and told his friends that he needs to leave me alone. It only pissed him off and he just continued to follow me around, yelling things at me, and making me feel uncomfortable.
I don’t want to disclose where this all occurred, but it was in a foreign country I traveled to and even though I had a friend around, I had never felt so alone, singled out, and scared.
This is the most common question people ask me as a female traveling to foreign countries, sometimes solo – Isn’t it dangerous for a woman? You could get hurt or harassed.
Yes, I have experienced some harassment and off-putting situations, and I’m sad to say that it’s something that always crosses my mind no matter how safe and secure a place may be.
It actually took me a long time to decide to write this piece. I don’t want it to discourage anyone from traveling, because it shouldn’t, but I have a duty to be honest and not remain silent on these issues. It also feels shameful, embarrassing, and uncomfortable to talk to about (even though it shouldn’t be). But, it’s a delicate topic, which isn’t the easiest to write about.
So ladies, just know this – 90% of the places you travel to are safe for females, as long as you aren’t stupidly walking alone at night. But sadly, you may face harassment anyway, and it’s utterly cruel and unfair. If you travel solo, make friends and come up with exit strategies. Make sure you have data on your phone to communicate with someone if you’re feeling uncomfortable or unsafe.
It’s time to stop being quiet about these things, but it’s also time to stick up for the smart, independent females who can take care of themselves out there.
So stay safe and don’t ever be afraid to speak the truth.