When you have been assaulted you feel shame. There is nothing more to say as it is perceived and in fact not just implied nor inferred, point blank told to you that you somehow encouraged, invited or even enjoyed it but now regret it.
I remind myself of the Journalist Lara Logan and her assault in Egypt and how the fallback was fierce and tragic with two camps clearly divided. While no one felt Anderson Cooper who was simply assaulted with shoes was in the "wrong place at the wrong time" nor was Richard Engel mocked when he was kidnapped. And are they not both attractive and isn't Anderson gay? Isn't that some type of invitation? He is also rich and of great progeny. Or the formal journalist Amanda Lindhout and her kidnapping in Somalia. She is quite a looker too.
So really what does it matter who you are, your gender, your sexual orientation, your looks? When it comes to freaks feeling the need to hurt you they will and they need little reason other than you being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Santa Barbara is finding that out today.
Funny the Police did nothing despite the families clear warnings and had they called 911 anonymously and said he was drunk driving or stoned or sold pot they would have no knocked his home, arrested him the in the car en route but being insane and having a manifesto so disturbing that your Parents are alarmed enough to call means hey we are not kidding here. And yet in California they would shoot victims running away from an assailant, driving a truck that resembles one used in a crime, arrest you for complexion issues and not having hands in proper position on the wheel. But a manifesto and videos demonstrating your hate towards women and ranting insanely about killing them, not a no knock kinda thing.
Once again I saw another Twitter war break out between a woman and the bloated gas bag, woman hating maniac who calls himself a Defense Attorney about this issue. I am sure at some point in his loathsome life he was accused of rape as simply defending men from this could not possibly explain his almost pathological obsession with the issue. What is more disturbing yet not surprising in his cohorts, the few that actually defend him, there is always one sad idiot or two of I suspect equally bloated gas bag attorneys, but in fact there are always two women who are clearly angry women who hate women. I am no fan of many women too but not that much. I am not sure if their dismissal of women is the issue I find so disturbing or the fact that they actually think this gasbag is intelligent and interesting. You are the company you keep. These would be two women whom I would also not hire as Attorneys. The nice thing is they actually use their full real names, the sad sack men often don't. Wonder why?
So when I read this article about traveling solo I knew that it is again an issue that falls to the woman. You are on your own in every way. I have never truly understood what that meant, I do now and it infuriates me. Not enough to rail on every man nor look to one with suspicion it just tells me that when you want help you will not get it. Yep I know that too and I don't even have to leave my hood for that one. Well on a positive note, save a ton of cash.
Between sun-seared shrubs and the collapsed remains of Istanbul’s Byzantine city walls, police found the body of an American tourist, Sarai Sierra, 33, in February 2013. Ms. Sierra, a New Yorker and a first-time traveler abroad, disappeared after near-constant contact with her family for two weeks. What happened to her is still a little unclear, but a Turkish man has reportedly confessed to killing her after supposedly trying to kiss her.
This is not a case of wrong place, wrong time. Ms. Sierra was not wandering off the beaten path. She was not engaged in risky behavior. She was on a trip hoping to practice photography, according to news reports. This is a terrifying case of what can — and does — happen to female travelers abroad.
Since her death early last year, a number of reports of attacks on female tourists have made headlines. An Italian tourist was reportedly raped by police officers in Mexico in the same month that Ms. Sierra’s body was found. An American tourist was raped in a store in Israel last June. A Norwegian woman was raped (then jailed, for having “unlawful sex”) in Dubai; she and the man accused in her attack were eventually pardoned last summer. On Jan. 15, a Danish woman, 51, reported being raped at knife point in New Delhi. She said she had approached the seven or eight men who attacked her to ask for directions to her hotel. In March, a British woman said she was raped by a security guard in a luxury hotel in Egypt.
We weigh our bodily integrity against our desire to see the world. For us, for women, there is a different tourist map of the globe, one in which we are told to consider the length of our skirts and the cuts of our shirts, the time of day in which we choose to move around, and the places we deem “safe.”
But what is the reality of violence against women now in the places we want to go — and should we be avoiding whole cities because of this risk, as some women are doing? What is the actual risk for women traveling abroad compared with the perception? I talked to statisticians and women’s rights advocates and visited a few countries where notorious cases have recently occurred to get a sense of what is happening.
Headlines in India
Since December 2012, ask most people what country they think of when they think of rape against tourists or others, and they will likely say India.
The brutality of the gang rape and murder of a young Indian medical student on a bus one December evening in New Delhi shocked many around the world. Protests erupted in huge numbers throughout India and beyond, and a government-led commission took an internal look at how the country prosecutes perpetrators of sexualized violence. But on the heels of the New Delhi attack came three more assaults on women in India that grabbed headlines. All three of the victims were foreigners: a Swiss woman during a camping trip with her husband in March 2013 in Madhya Pradesh state, central India; a British woman soon after that in her Agra hotel room; and a 30-year-old American woman .
These attacks have apparently rattled people enough to affect tourism. The New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry reported that three months after the woman’s death after the attack on the bus, foreign female tourism to India fell by 35 percent.
Still, the truth is that other countries are even more dangerous for women than India. Without firm statistics on violence against female tourists, the closest yardstick is violence against local women — which experts say far outnumbers the better-known tourist attacks.
“The fact is that the rate of rape in Mexico is higher than in India,” said Carlos Javier Echarri Cánovas, a professor of demography at El Colegio de México who studies violence against women. There were 15,000 rape complaints in Mexico in 2010 and about the same in 2011, according to government statistics. Mr. Echarri explained that while 18,359 rape cases were registered in India in the first quarter of 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, Mexico has one-tenth the population of India.
Yet even these statistics aren’t conclusive. Reports of rape in all countries are hampered variously by corruption and a cultural willingness to ignore violence considered “normal,” even close to home. The compelling narrative has been that as more Western women travel farther afield, the more they are at risk. But that is hard to pinpoint statistically. It might raise the question of why few are asking about the safety of traveling as a woman in Western Europe and the United States, a country of more than 300 million people. In the United States about 270,000 women were victims of rape and sexual assault in 2010, according to the Department of Justice. (The department culled data from interviews with households, which means that these are rapes that may or may not have been reported to police.)
Various kinds of Internet searches that I conducted turned up very few news stories about attacks on women in these destinations: There’s one from July 2013 about a tourist from Georgia (the state, not the country) alleging rape in New York and another about a woman from Canada who says a handful of French policemen raped her in Paris in April. Mainly though, searching for news articles on the rape of foreigners in the United States yielded only their mirror image — reports of violence against American women abroad. But this does not mean there are fewer attacks taking place on Western soil.
Experts note that this trend, so to speak, is amplified by the media, which makes individual incidents seem part of a larger pattern. “On average, attacks against white women worldwide receive more coverage than attacks against women of color,” said Cristina Finch, director of Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Program.
Looking at the Numbers
Experts I spoke to say they cannot know whether attacks on female tourists are actually increasing. Hard numbers are difficult to come by. None of these groups — UN Women, an agency focused on gender equality; the United States State Department; and nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs — keep data on violence against female tourists. The British Foreign Office, however, does release statistics on how many Britons request consular assistance after a sexual attack; in 2012-2013, 310 people requested assistance, with 138 saying they had been raped and 172 sexually assaulted — an increase of 9 and 12 percent for the year respectively, according to figures from the office’s “British Behavior Abroad Report.”
But those figures are hardly the end of the story. A number of experts tell me that it is possible that violence is on the rise in part because more women than ever are traveling alone, and are venturing ever farther off the beaten path.
For sheer numbers, consider that nearly 25 years ago there were seven million United States passports in circulation, said John Whiteley, a State Department spokesman. Now there are 118 million. Still, Mr. Whiteley said he was not sure he saw a trend when it came to violence against female travelers.
“We do know that over the years that violence against women has become increasingly talked about and reported,” said Ms. Finch of Amnesty International USA. She agreed that there was no way to know whether actual violence against female travelers was up.
Dina Deligiorgis, a spokeswoman at UN Women, said there has been increasing attention to violence against women and girls in the last five to 10 years for a number of reasons, including the passage of various resolutions in the United Nations and the start of the United Nations secretary-general’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign.
How Safe Are Local Women?
Every expert I spoke to, whether in India, Mexico, Brazil or elsewhere, said that cases of violence against international female tourists are not only more likely to make the news, they are also more likely to see justice than cases involving local women.
On Feb. 6, 2013, six female Spanish tourists were raped in Acapulco. On Feb. 13, Mexico’s attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, declared the case “resolved.”
Teresa Inchaustegui, the director of the Mexican government’s Center of Studies for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equity, said that though that case had wrapped up swiftly, there were thousands of unsolved rapes of local women every year. And she noted that the Acapulco mayor initially tried to downplay the attack on the women, saying it had hurt the image of the town and that such violence could have happened “anywhere in the world.” (He later apologized for his remarks.)
“It’s undoubtedly a double standard,” said Laura Carlsen, director of the nonprofit Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, of the government reaction to the tourist rapes versus those of local women. An often cited crime statistic in Mexico is that 98 percent of the crimes in the country go unpunished.
Last May, I decided to visit Mexico because the country has long been on the international danger radar — rashes of drug-war-related violence have left headless bodies across the country for years, and recorded violence against local women is staggering. In the northern city of Ciudad Juárez alone, hundreds of women have been killed or have disappeared since 1993.
The United States State Department warns that women should avoid being alone in the country, “particularly in isolated areas and at night” and that rape and sexual assault “continue to be serious problems in resort areas.”
Overall, a number of people who study gender in Mexico expressed something similar to what Mr. Echarri at the Colegio de México told me: “You have a patriarchal society, a misogynistic one, with a widely held belief that women are the property of men.” This, it would seem, can lead to sexualized violence — whether harassment or assault — and foreigners predictably draw attention.
A Dutch citizen, Rachel de Joode, lived in Mexico last year and said she felt there was a reason to be more cautious as a woman “just because of what I heard in the media and around me.” She said she would never go anywhere alone after 9 p.m. without truly knowing the area and using a “safe cab” (one called from a reputable company, not hailed off the street).
Mexico City has taken recent precautions, creating women-only buses in 2008 — women-only subway cars were already in place — on which a number of female tourists, including Ms. de Joode, said they felt safer. And while Ms. de Joode told me that she had been grabbed at in the mixed-gender subway a few times, she had experienced that and worse on the streets of Berlin and Amsterdam.
Lonely Planet, a travel guide for the slightly more intrepid backpack set, also seems to fall on the not-as-scary-as-it-appears side: “Despite often alarming media reports and official warnings, Mexico is generally a safe place to travel, and with just a few precautions you can minimize the risk of encountering problems,” it states online.
In my half-dozen trips to Mexico, I have never experienced any kind of serious sexual harassment. I have, however, been asked for a bribe by the police.
Some Blame the Victim
When it comes to perception versus reality, it might help to look to Turkey. I was recently in Istanbul for a conference on preventing atrocities. I walked in the same places Ms. Sierra walked and felt no danger whatsoever beyond burning my skin in the blasting sun. I was warned, though, when I asked at the front desk of my hotel for directions one evening to a particular part of the city to meet a friend. “Be careful of the men there,” the staff warned.
Like many major cities, Istanbul has its share of crime. But what I found so ominous about this warning was that I was not told to watch for pickpockets or scammers or even violence from the anti-government protests that were in full swing last summer. I was told to watch for men.
Even so, multiple tour operators I spoke to in Istanbul said Ms. Sierra’s murder has had little effect on tourism in Turkey. Government figures show that the number of foreigners arriving in Turkey in May 2013 increased by 18 percent compared with the same month the year before.
Istanbul Tour Services said they had seen no cancellations or drop in reservations after Ms. Sierra’s death. Hakan Haykiri, 51, who owns a store that sells tourist knickknacks in the neighborhood in which Ms. Sierra was found dead, agreed that the case had not affected his trade, dismissing the violence as too common globally to matter.
“The same things happen everywhere in the world and it does not affect tourism,” Mr. Haykiri said. But he went on to say: “If the woman does not flirt, a man would not attempt to do anything, any harassment. Everything starts with a woman.”
This kind of victim-blaming was not terribly uncommon among men I spoke to in Turkey. Erkan Turkan, 30, a manager at Istanbul’s Volare Tour, interrupted a question about whether Ms. Sierra’s murder had affected business by saying, “She was asking for trouble.”
Victim-blaming is hardly unique to Turkey. Sara Benson, who has written for the Lonely Planet guidebook series since 1999, described an attack she experienced in Malaysia. Riding an old, rickety bicycle to update the company’s guide, she found herself being followed and taunted by a man on a motorbike.
“He’s laughing and cackling and making masturbatory gestures,” she said. “He circles back and I start hurling rocks at him.”
Shaken, she went to the police a couple of villages over. But all she got was laughter when she described what happened, she said. “You’re a white woman traveling around by yourself,” she recalled an officer saying. “You got what you deserved.”
How to Minimize the Risk
So what kinds of precautions can a concerned traveler take? Minimizing risk, whether in a foreign city or a local one, whether you are a woman or a man, is common sense. One easy way to do that is to check the State Department’s website for travel warnings before you head out; the site is regularly being updated and includes cautions about things like carjackings in Mexico and gender-based violence in and around protest areas in Egypt. For more women-specific updates, there are many “What can I expect?” message boards out there, including ones by Lonely Planet. Also, it never hurts to carry the telephone number for your hotel and the local police with you.
One out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to a 2013 World Health Organization study. Julia Drost, the policy and advocacy associate in women’s human rights at Amnesty International USA, said such violence “knows no national or cultural barriers.”
The question then, in the end, is: Should all this violence — real or amplified — stop us from seeing the world?
Summing up what seems to be the underlying sentiment of many female travelers I spoke to, Jocelyn Oppenheim, an architectural designer in New York who has trekked extensively through India, said: “Bad things can happen, but bad things can happen when you get in a taxi in New York.”