Women Travel Safety: Attacks in India and Mexico: Travelers Do’s and Don’ts

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From Acapulco to New Delhi — in tourist bars, hotel rooms, taxis and deserted streets, women are less safe than ever.

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Do your homework before you leave.

Traveling to see the world is exciting and entirely safe for most of us, most of the time.  However, for us, for women, we move around the world with a different mind set, one in which we must consider the time of day, where we walk, who gets into an elevator with us, the safety of a destination, wearing form fitting clothes, and our behavior in a bar.

Bad things can happen in New York, Los Angeles or Paris.

The risks for women traveling requires that we read up on our destination before you go and be informed about precautions you can take. Another option to independent travel is to book a tour.

India and Mexico

 The brutality of gang rape, taxi rape, and murder in India has led many women wondering if they should go at all. It has impacted tourism in India. It has also fueled a heightened state of danger for women traveling abroad.

Flickr: David Jubert

Should you avoid whole cities or countries? No. Don’t let fear keep you at home. Be informed and prepared. Flickr: David Jubert

Did you know that the percentage of rapes in Mexico is higher than in India? This is even more shocking when you consider that Mexico has one-tenth the population of India.

Before you go, search online for posts tagged “women’s safety, India” and read the most current reviews. A post that is over a year old is useless.

Organize your travel itinerary so you don’t arrive at night. Book a transfer from the airport or train station through your hotel or travel company so you will be met by someone reputable with a sign with your name.

Flickr: Ron Wiecki

By text or social media, keep your friends and family up-to-date on your location and travel plans. Photo: Flickr. Ron Wiecki

Carry a cell phone. You can buy a cheap phone when you arrive or buy a SIM card for your unlocked phone. It is inexpensive to buy more minutes for your mobile phone. It will be your safety backup. Take a photo of the taxi driver’s registration, etc.

No “Nice Girl” Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself if you’re feeling uncomfortable. “When I traveled  for 5 weeks alone in India, 2015, I learned that if a cabbie  is acting weird, insist he stop immediately. Get loud.” says JC Sheppard.

India JC and Mom 187

If the local women cover their legs and arms, it’s a warning you should too.

No Tight Clothing. Dress conservatively. Consider the length of your skirt and the exposure of cleavage. Look at what the local women wear. Blend in. In India, wear a long scarf to cover your curves.

If you have to wait somewhere, such as a train station, look for other women or families to sit with. If you are seated with someone, it is unlikely that you will be approached or harassed. Ask for help or company if you feel uncomfortable. 

  1. Use your city smarts. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dicey places like deserted streets. If you are alone, don’t walk down it. Having other people around can offer more safety.

After dark, don’t use public transportation or rickshaws,Use well known travel agents to book any kind of transportation or a guide. Unrepeatable scam artists linger around airports and train stations. 

Use the buddy system if you go to a bar. It’s better to have two sets of eyes to watch for bad situations. Don’t leave without your buddy.

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Watch the bar tender pour your drink and don’t leave it unattended at any time.

Get smart about Rophynol, “the date rape drug”, which is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. If a guy buys you a drink, don’t accept it unless you see the bartender pour it.  Carry your drink around with you. Don’t leave your glass unattended to go dance or to the toilet.

Trust your instincts. Don’t do things you wouldn’t do at home: drink too much alone leave a bar with a stranger and go to his apartment, accept a ride from a stranger, walk in a dark, deserted street alone. If you have a small feeling that something is wrong, or “off”, get out.

Cash can get you out of tight situations. Carry some hidden on your body when you go out.

Always carry enough cash in your shoe to get you out of a tight spot. Be willing to spend this money on a taxi in order to get you to a safe place or back to your lodging.

 

How do you stay on top of travel warnings?

 Check the State Department’s website for  before you head out; the site is regularly being updated and includes cautions about things like kidnapping, rapes, carjacking’s and gender-based violence.

It’s important to have different travel information sources available for planning and during travel (in addition to government website).

 

To read more:

For more advice:

Safety Tips for College Students Going Abroad. http://alsunnah.info/travel-safety-tips-for-college-students/

 

 

 

 

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Category: Women, India, TIPS, Mexico, Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. Hi Mary Beth, excellent advice as usual. The Women’s Travel Group goes to Mexico often. We also recommend that women actually talk to female hotel employees for their advice and check English language newspapers in each country for local crime and advice. Thanks for the bday wish on our page.

  2. H-A-B says:

    Hi Marybeth and thank you for sharing these Do’s and Don’ts for female travelers. You are correct in saying that we as women have to take extra care in our day to day lives as well as on our travels.

    As a female solo traveler and a womens self defense instructor I’d like to share a safety tip of my own which I hope your female readers will read, remember, and share with many other women and girls far and wide.

    I have been teaching Krav Maga to women and girls for over five years and we teach a very effective technique which I feel should should be in every woman and girls arsenal. We are a women only event, run by women, for women, and there is an extremely effective technique what we teach to women of all ages, which I feel we should all share as far and wide as possible.

    The technique is the “groin grab” self defense technique which is to be used against a male attacker, which is now taught in many womens self defense classes, and there is actually a little trick to it…

    To execute this technique, you’re going to take your hand and quickly grasp between the attackers thighs underhand. Its going to feel like you’re “cradling” the testicles. Quickly grab hold of, or snatch the testicles and dig your fingertips into the fragile skin BEHIND the scrotum. Then, once you have a good grip, you turn your hand into a vice, with your fingers digging inwards, around the back and over the top of the testicles. If you do it right, you should feel the testes INSIDE your hand which is holding the scrotum. You want, whenever possible, to hook your fingers over and around at least one testicle. One of them is enough.

    Then, with your hands in a claw and your fingertips latched around the testes, you turn your hand sharply, as though you were turning a doorknob. Simultaneously, squeeze hard and pull the testicles away from his body as fast and as hard as you can. DO NOT LET GO OF THEM. This is very important. What happens then, is that your assailant usually screams out in pain and then tries to grab the wrist of your hand holding him in a futile attempt to try to get you to release him. DON’T. He then quickly loses one of the natural advantages he usually has over us (his strength) within a matter of seconds. Vomiting, curling over, collapsing and convulsing is common. Shock and unconsciousness can set in within 8 seconds. If he initially starts to fight back then you tuck your head in and keep squeezing his testicles until he faints. This only takes a matter of seconds. When he collapses, which he will, you get away to safety as quickly as possible and call for help. I’ve heard of two older women who dragged their attackers to a place of safety while holding them by the testicles. It may sound odd but testicles are so vulnerable and sensitive that this technique also works extremely well for women. I also like to share the story of the woman who was threatened with the words “do as I say or else…” by the younger man who attacked her in her own home, but she managed to turn the situation around to where she was in control, where he eventually ended up collapsing and begging her to phone the police while she maintained a tight grip on his testicles.

    It’s never too late to perform this technique at any stage of an attack, and that even includes the option of reaching down if he’s on top of you, but it is easiest to do when the testicles are exposed and closest to you where you can grab hold of them. I’ve actually met several women in my life who have fought off their attackers in this way and one did it when her attacker was on top of her and raping her at the point he lost control. Don’t ever hold back. Some women scream while they are doing this, and some women think of a loved one being harmed to help overcome any bad feelings of hurting someone else even if they are being hurt themselves. Do whatever you have to do if you feel it helps.

    If done properly, and done with enough force, this technique can even lead to the testicles rupturing. It’s actually easier to do than most women believe, and just about all of us have the capability to injure an attackers testicles in this way – whether we are young girls still of school age, or whether we are great grandmothers. We, as women have no part of our bodies as vulnerable as a mans testicles. After all, if you think about it testicles are just small objects of extreme vulnerability to pain squishiness wrapped in a delicate layer of skin which offers them no protection at all from this kind of counterattack by a woman. Most importantly, this fact holds true no matter what size your attacker is, nor how strong he is. And no matter how angry he is, and how much he’s threatened what he’s going to do to you, he’s going to drop. Don’t let anyone (usually men who are very uncomfortable with thoughts of women beating them in combat) try to convince you otherwise.

    I once worked with a group of Somali women who informed me that grandmothers, mothers, and daughters between generations shared this powerful method of fighting off men. They even have a name for it in Somalia and they call the move “Qworegoys”. They were surprised that women in the West didn’t seem to share this information as much as they expected them to, and even more surprised that most women didn’t even seem aware of this technique.

    I know that this advice would have been a difficult read for many women, but our lives are worth far more than a rapists testicles and we should be prepared to do whatever it takes to get away to safety. Please help to share this advice with as many other women and girls as far and wide as possible in any way you can help. It could one day be a life saver.

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