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Sexual Harassment of Women Solo Travellers

Sexual Harassment of Women Solo Travellers
Author: Jessica Mills
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Sexual harassment is the act of unwanted sexual behaviour which violates the persons dignity, makes the person feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and creates a hostile or offensive environment to the person in question (Citizens Advice, 2019).
The conference paper will be looking into Sexual Harassment of women solo travellers and what it is that needs to be done to develop and make changes so the situation is not influential on women and their travel plans. “Female travellers gain empowerment and reconstruct identities through risk taking (Yang, E et al., 2018).”

Sexual Harassment, Violence, Empowerment, Solo Travel, Women.

Topics such as Social Justice & Equality, the definition of Sexual Harassment, exploring the ‘Geography of Women’s fear’ and Gender and Race within the tourism sector will be covered in the sections of the conference paper so we can try and get a better understanding of what it is necessary, gather more information and knowing on the topic and have the potential to learn the right form of education and awareness spreading.

The conference paper will fit into band number 3, understanding gender and racialised tourism experience due to the themes of women and sexual harassment. There were 5 key themes within the conference paper; Sexual Harassment, Solo Travel, Women, Violence and Safety. Specia & Mzezewa (2019) talk about how women when travelling solo experience “catcalls and myriad other forms of harassment” but regardless of these physical and vocal sources of harassment “solo female travellers increased by 45% from 2015 to 2017, compared with a 40% increase for men”. So there is still a significant pull towards the motive of solo travelling for females regardless of the threat of harassment. This is a positive to take from the data due to men appearing to have the upper hand. When Maria Menegazzo & Maria Coni were murdered the judge asked why they were “travelling alone”. Why is it that these two women who were travelling together and not alone are seen the need to have a male chaperone? The knock on impact of “low-level sexism” is really phenomenal. We need to find a way to confidently educate in this global phenomenon of solo travelling that sexual harassment is wrong. It also draws the difficult conclusion that every culture is different and sees the way women are viewed differently. In some cultures women are lesser than men, therefore making it difficult to change these ways and try to show that women and man are equal in multiple aspects of life.

There are many options for safety which women take into consideration before solo travelling with violence and sexual harassment in mind, some looking at local crime statistics, receptionist presence in hotels and security features of the hotel/hostel are all things these women have looked into before travelling. Although this is a normal activity, the notion that it is invoked by the rumour of violence or sexual harassment is haunting.

Within this paper I will be conducting a qualitative primary data research project where a questionnaire will be distributed to a volunteer participant who will remain anonymous. The questionnaire will cover the participants experience of sexual harassment during their travels with their full consent and anonymity. The data will then be analysed in accordance with the topic and a conclusion of the results will follow afterwards. Due to the nature of writing and owning a travel blog, the participant was found by asking on social media site Twitter if anyone would be willing to get in contact with myself via email to fill out the 9 question questionnaire based on their travel experiences and if their experience effected their travel, the questionnaire remaining completely anonymous. Communication was via email and all data will be kept on a laptop for a month until data is destroyed.

The summary of the findings was that although the participant thoroughly enjoyed their travels and enjoyed travelling alone, it was something that was not done until they were older. The participant stated that although the experience was something they will never forget it will “not stop them travelling”. This is the mindset we need women to continue to face when solo travelling. Although it changed the participants safety methods and the way they moved around from place to place, if it was to affect women’s choices on travel it means it has fed “into the idea that violence against them is inevitable” and this is not something we want as a globe (Bates, L. 2016) .

"It is a woman's right to free movement, to travel, to explore, to enjoy public spaces, to ride public transportation without experiencing the fear of violence," Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women (Sachs, A. 2017).

Key References Used:

Bates, L. (2016). Why is travelling alone still considered a risky, frivolous pursuit for women?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/mar/21/travelling-alone-risky-women-sexist-attitudes [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Specia, M. and Mzezewa, T. (2019). Adventurous. Alone. Attacked.. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/travel/solo-female-travel.html [Accessed 12 May 2019].

Yang, E., Khoo-Lattimore, C. and Arcodia, C. (2018). Power and empowerment: How Asian solo female travellers perceive and negotiate risks. Tourism Management, 68, pp.32-45.