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How Can Women Prevent Sexual Harassment When They Travel?

Aug 23, 2008
The women of today are venturing out and traveling more globally then at any time in history. Female travelers, whether traveling alone or as a group, are encountering different cultures, religions, and societies. With this freedom comes some risks that men may never encounter. It is therefore a good idea for women to learn how to handle themselves when vacationing, studying abroad, or traveling on business.

There are some things that you can do that may help you have a safer and more enjoyable travel experience.

If you are traveling, or on vacation, your best protection is to understand the local culture and customs of the country you are visiting. What you observe when you watch how the local women behave and dress will give you valuable clues on how to avoid sexual harassment.

If the local women cover their hair and their arms and legs then you should do that also. Do not wear bikinis, swimsuits, or short shorts in towns where local women are all covered up. Dress conservatively.

Be sure to avoid direct eye contact with men as they might think you're flirtatious. Do not speak, smile, or wave at strange men who may smile or say hello to you. If a man begins to follow you, cross to the other side of street. If this tactic doesn't work, find a policeman, or go into a store and ask for help.

When you need to ask directions, always ask a woman. And, if you are traveling by bus or train, you should always sit with other women.

A great idea is to always carry a versatile head scarf in your handbag just in case you need to cover your head and arms.

Another tactic is to wear a fake wedding ring to discourage and help ward off unwanted male advances if you are not married.

You should wear a referee's whistle around your neck under your blouse. It could come in handy.

Consider consulting guide books on the countries and areas that you are traveling to or through to give you an idea of what to expect. Also, take along a foreign language phrase book with you to help you communicate with the local people when you get there.

It's not advisable to wear expensive looking jewelry, watches, carrying cases for cameras, or even designer handbags. You do not want to tempt any possible muggers or robbers. Take along a conservative outfit with you just in case you need one to wear on certain occasions.

If you are traveling alone, it is best to travel light. For one thing you will be more mobile because you aren't loaded down with luggage. If it's not too small for your belongings, a wheeled, carry-on bag, or a backpack may be you best bet. It is important to try and have one hand free at all times. Having two hands free is even better. You should wear a shoulder bag that has a strong, wide strap that will fit over your head. Wearing the shoulder bag this way may help prevent someone from grabbing the bag and running away with it. The bag should also have secure, zippered pockets.
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