Every time I read another article about tips for solo female travelers, I get a warm feeling inside. I know that our friends, sisters, mothers and partners have a new source of information. It’s easy to think that women’s safety is their problem. It isn’t. We, men, have to be as engaged as they are to tackle this issue.
It’s sad to know that no matter how prepared girls are, there are always miserable bastards preying on them. These monsters keep waiting for the right moment when a woman feels safe and lets her guard down to attack ― and ruin yet another life.
And don’t be fooled thinking it’s only one life that’s ruined, these attacks hurt everybody. Imagine how you’d feel if someone you hold dear was raped? For every new case, there are more ladies shying away, not willing to take risks, afraid for their safety.
So how exactly can we help? What can we do in order to create an environment where women can travel freely without being targets?
A lot! Let me give you a couple of ideas:
Watch out for them
The next time you’re drinking in your hostel or attending one of those wild pub crawls, pay attention to your female friends. I mean, everybody should be able to know their limits, but sometimes a nice group of friends can create a fake feeling of safety.
So when a girl is going for her sixth shot of tequila, you might want to keep an eye on her. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun yourself, but keep her in mind at all times. If all of a sudden she starts slurring her words or stumbling, it might be the time to stay next to her.
Imagine that in the same way you’d be looking out for her, there could be another person doing exactly the same thing, but with opposite intentions.
Identify weird behavior among the men
Don’t think that the first suspect is that drug addict homeless man. The majority of the rapists tend to be people whom the victims knew. So in the traveling scene, this person could easily be that guy staying on the top bunk, in your dormitory.
You might want to check if the guys around you talk about the ladies with respect. I mean, the point here is to pay attention to anything out of the ordinary. If a guy is being constantly chauvinistic or obsessing over one particular beautiful girl in a weird way, it should set your alarms off.
Does it mean the guy is a rapist? Obviously not. But if you’re feeling something off about someone, don’t ignore it. You don’t have to stalk and act like James Bond, but it doesn’t hurt to check up on him every now and then. If for some reason you see him with the girl he was obsessing about, just check if she’s fine.
Rescue a girl if you need to
Everybody has seen the annoying guy in the club trying his best to kiss a girl who’s dodging all his advances. It’s a sorry sight. It’s not only sorry because the guy is a dickhead, but the lady might be going through hell to get rid of him.
Instead of looking away, do something about it!
You don’t have to start a fight and turn a manageable situation into a stressful one. You can always approach and ask if everything is OK. You could say you’re her brother or even ask for another girl to go there with you. Just don’t leave the girl fighting on her own.
Offer some help
If you see a girl who seems stressed or worried, ask what’s wrong. This could happen in any setting, be it in a hostel, on a night out or at the beach. What if the girl thinks someone is following her? And she’s not confident enough to ask for help?
Maybe there’s a lady who wants to go back to her hostel, but she doesn’t want to do it alone. The possibilities for distress are endless and you should be there to comfort someone if you need to.
Remember these are only four suggestions, but you can always do something whether you’re traveling or not. If you see a local hitting his wife? Take action! If you hear a guy abusing his partner in the next room? Take action! If you see a lady with a black eye? Take action!
I believe any women reading this article will find this advice obvious. It’s obvious because for them it’s common knowledge; it’s the way they’ve always been living their life. When it comes to safety, women are always helping each other. They always want their friends to call when they get home or if something’s not right.
The majority of men, on the other hand, tend to be worried about completely different stuff. And that’s exactly what has to change. Imagine that if all men took care of women the way they take care of themselves, we’d have twice (if not thrice) the number of eyes paying attention to what’s going on.
Nowadays being a good man is not enough. Actually, it’s been once said that “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.” And I believe that’s exactly the case here.
My mom made sure I wasn’t just a good man; she tried her best for me to be a great man and take action when it was needed. Am I a great man? That’s for others to say. What I know and like to repeat is that women are precious, and their fight is our fight.
Guilherme is a Brazilian freelance travel writer. He is the Co-Founder of the Slow Spirit Blog, where he writes about a minimalist, sustainable travel lifestyle.