There are few things more traumatic than being raped and even the physical consequences of disease and pregnancy can be grave. Again it’s a tiny minority of travelers who end up getting raped but you really don’t want to add to the statistics, do you?
Most of the advice here applies to women but male rape is no joke either:
– In countries where women cover up, do the same. Walk down the street in India wearing a mini skirt and you’re announcing to the local men that you’re cheap and available.
– Just the fact of a woman traveling without her husband is hard to accept for many cultures where women are either virgins, mothers or whores. It may not be right, it may not be fair but it’s very real and so the more modesty you show the better.
– In male-dominated cultures it’s better not to look men in the eye. It can be seen as a challenge or come-on and you may end up being followed and attacked.
– Assert yourself. If the locals have seen Baywatch then they may think they’re in with a chance with any Western woman and will try it on with pinches and squeezes in the street or in bus journeys. If this happens, turn around and scream at the man and hit back – the local community will almost always take your side at once.
– Let families befriend you. You may have to listen to some lectures about the inadvisability of being a female alone abroad but you will get protection and care as you get temporarily adopted by the families you meet on buses and trains.
– Be wary when heading off alone in nature. Don’t let fear stop you from making treks in the wild but look over your shoulder once in a while to see if you’re being followed.
– A cellphone can be handy to call for help if you find yourself stranded with unwanted male attention.
– Whilst we don’t recommend travelers take weapons with them, a little can of mace could save the say in extremis.
‘There is a boy across the river with a bottom like a peach,
but alas! I cannot swim!’ (the Wounded Heart, an old Afghan song)
Men don’t generally have to worry too much about protecting themselves against rape but in certain parts of the world, notably Muslim countries where there’s little interaction between the sexes, the frustrated testosterone occasionally turns towards male company.
Young men are usually the targets of male rape and the more feminine in appearance the more attractive they’ll probably be. Growing a beard may be a useful deterrent as might passing a few days without a wash.