Harassment to us at Travset is a completely unthinkable, heinous act that makes others uncomfortable. It is, unfortunately, a widespread issue and one that many travelers seem to be facing both in their own countries as well as abroad. It does, however, appear to be affecting women more than men and is all the more worrying in a foreign country as the locals might be emboldened by the tourist’s unfamiliarity of the land.
It is, however, important to call out harassment when you are a victim of it. Not speaking out will only make encourage those nefarious few to continue this behavior and make other travelers feel violated as you are.
It is with this in mind that we, together with several of our most seasoned female travelers have created a guide to deal with harassment when abroad.
What is harassment?
Harassment as per the Canadian Human Rights Commission is a form of discrimination involving any unwanted physical or verbal behavior that offends or humiliates an individual. Generally, harassment is a behavior that persists over time, but one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment.
Steps that can be taken to reduce harassment
Try to blend in as possible- it will reduce the amount of attraction given towards you. We recommend talking to the local women, dressing as they do and investing in a pair of sunglasses to prevent eye contact.
Walk with confidence- it is at times to blend into certain destinations owning to differences in physical features. It is then wise to adopt a haughty, confident manner to deter those who seek victims to harass.
Understand the local culture- some cultures consider things such as catcalls perfectly normal and means of appreciating a woman. This might be strange but being prepared for it makes exposure to such cultures easier.
Research- its best to do some reading about the country you will be visiting, in order to respects its culture and dress accordingly. Such forward-thinking will save you from much harassment.
Prevention is better than cure- its best to heed the warnings of the locals and refrain from venturing too late into the night or to locations that have a dubious reputation.
What to do when you are a victim of harassment?
Speak up – those who commit acts of harassment do so as they are emboldened in your silence. It is therefore wise to call such individuals out as it happens. Do however access the situation before the confrontation, as it would not be wise to do so if you are alone or in a vulnerable situation.
Contact the authorities- some countries have stringent anti-harassment laws and we recommend informing them of the harassment as it happens. You might also want to record the said harassment as it happens in order to show the officers who will be arriving.
Ask for help- inform those around you of the act of harassment that transpired and seeks help. There are many who are willing to help at such a time!
Listen to your gut- most incidents of harassment are limited to verbal and some physical contact. Some however escalate and you should listen to your intuition to access a situation and act accordingly. Your safety and wellbeing is a priority.
Don’t be discouraged- being exposed to harassment is sure to put a damper on your trip. You must not, however, let this affect you or your adventurous spirits as a few uncouth individuals is not a reflection of those destinations.