How Female Travelers Should Respond to Sexual Harassment on the Road

It appears in this age of the #MeToo movement, heaps of douche-bag sexual misconduct and abuse has been unearthed not only from the entertainment industry but also in other facets of our society. We now come face to face with the chilling reality – to which most of us have turned a blind eye for years – that sexual harassment happens in every aspect of our daily lives. For solo female travelers, the risk of being subjected to different kinds of harassment on the road dips the scale of high probability. It is difficult enough to find oneself in an unfamiliar place, being subjected to catcalling, groping and flashing 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.

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 on 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 cat-callers

While Angeline was correct in shouting for help because her harasser was able to get close to her, cat-callers within a hearing distance should be avoided and ignored at all cost. One thing with cat-callers are they tend to like it when they are being responded to.

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.

Jessica Cuenca

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”.

(April Cuenca’s start-up Tripkada offers a safer way of traveling by providing a platform for like-minded wanderers to travel together)

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 advises in mind on how one can avoid being sexually harassed on the road, please let us know in the comments section.