There has been a lot of buzz in the media lately about violence against women, and in particular, about is it safe for women to travel solo. Most recently, the murder of an American woman in Turkey has sparked another round of debate. Is female solo travel safe?
Well let’s start with how the media portrays it. If we listen to the media, then we will quickly learn that no, it is NOT safe for women to travel alone. But then again we will also learn that it is not safe for women to walk alone at night. And it is not safe for women to dress “provactatively”. Basically if we listen to the media we will quickly discover that if a woman leaves her house without a male escort, then she is pretty much asking to be raped, assaulted or murdered.
Why would the media say that female solo travel is unsafe?
Why would the media want to give out such a ridiculous idea. Well, let’s use our critical thinking skills here. What is the media’s main purpose? If you answered “a provide an unbiased educational account of the world around us, in order to help us make informed decisions,” then you would, sadly, be wrong.
The media’s main purpose is to MAKE MONEY. And what sells best?
Sex and fear
Now thankfully the majority of respected publications don’t use sex to sell their newspapers or news programs (with a notable exception being the Sun….), but they still have fear in their arsenal. And fear will sell A LOT of newspapers.
Lets look at the facts about violence against women
So then why doesn’t the media focus on the fact that the majority of violent crime against women is actually perpetrated again women by their partners or other family members in their own home? According to the most recent publication by the Australian institute of criminology, only 6 000 of the 17 000 cases of sexual assault against women occurred outside the home. So why doesn’t the media report on that? Why are we not bombarded with messages about how to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence?
Sadly, the answer is because violence against women in the home is still culturally acceptable, whether we want to admit it or not.
So instead of focusing on what is the biggest cause of violence against women – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – where we would have to actually recognize that the main problem is male attitudes towards women and violence – we instead focus on situations where it is much easier to blame the woman.
Instead of looking at WHY the male perpetrator thought it OK to harm a woman, we try to find as many reasons as possible as to why it was HER FAULT somehow.
Is solo female travel safe?
So if the majority of violence against women is perpetrated in the home, and by someone the woman knows, then why is the media making a big deal about solo female travel?
It comes back to fear. Fear sells. And fear of the unknown sells even better.
I have travelled solo all around the world. I moved to Denmark, Scotland, England, and New Zealand all by my lonesome. I have backpacked in Europe, Samoa, and Fiji all alone. I walk alone at night, and take public transport. And during all these times on my own in foreign countries – I have NEVER felt threatened or unsafe.
However, back home in Canada…..
I am from the murder capital of Canada, and I live in the downtown core where most of the violence occurs. I used to work nights, and I don’t have my own car – so walking alone at night was my reality. Now back home in Canada I have been mugged, I have had my house broken into (where the only thing that was stolen was my panties), I have been chased down the street, I have had a knife pulled on me. Luckily I have never been injured during any of this. But the point is this – I am just as likely to be a victim of crime in my own home town than when I travel. And actually I am probably MORE LIKELY to be a victim of violence in my hometown than while I am travelling.
Solo female travel is just as safe as solo male travel. In fact, solo female travellers are probably SAFER than their male counterparts? Why?
For the same reasons that men are more likely to be the victims of violence back home.
Men are more likely to take risks, they are more likely to drink excessively, and they are more likely to get involved in violent situations with other men.
Women are less likely to do these things, and are therefore less likely to be victims of crime (just like at home).
In all the recent cases of violence against women that have recently been sensationalized in the media, in NONE of those cases was the violence the fault of the woman. So what does that mean? Well it means that the act of violence could just have likely happened to her at home (in fact it is more likely to happen at home), as it was to happen to her while travelling.
Don’t let fear rule your life
Travel is an extremely enriching and rewarding activity. Why would you want to limit your life’s possibilities because of fear? Especially because of an irrational fear. Just look at the facts – as a woman, you ought to me much more weary of the type person you chose to be your partner, than you should of international solo travel.