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Six months in India in 2012 prompted me to write a piece about travelling safely as a solo female – still the highest trafficked article I’ve ever published – which made me think a great deal about how many women are concerned for their safety when travelling alone.
Depending on the country, I’ve averted my eyes and refrained from ‘upsetting’ the perpetrator, or I’ve stared back sternly, raised my voice and made sure the surrounding people are aware of my discomfort.The one and only facet of Latino culture I have still not changed my opinions about, because it tapped straight into a core part of my belief system.Being treated differently, simply because I was female.How can she best minimise the impact of a potentially threatening situation?Above all, she will learn to trust that feeling in her gut. This simply isn’t right.” Over the last seven years I’ve travelled through Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and both North and South America, predominantly by myself.Hell, they might even enjoy the attention that I found so problematic!
Walking through the narrow streets of Cuba’s capital of Havana one day, I found myself behind a Cuban woman and slowed my pace.
But a female traveller will also face prejudice around the world, in the form of sexism and discrimination, misogyny and objectification.
She will have to deal with the resulting fears that may arise. Should she actively alter her behaviour, or her style of dress?
Despite being foreigners and strangers, women often connect with local children, young mothers, and old ladies with an immediacy borne from an innate trust in our gender.
We are invited into Indian wedding ceremonies and Thai family kitchens, and given privileges that a male stranger could rarely hope to receive.
What I did keep track of, however, was the way it changed me.