The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately one in three women (35 percent) worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Sexual violence against women is considered a global public health concern because of the lasting impact on women’s physical and mental health.
Although discussions of sexual violence focus on heterosexual incidents with women as the victims and men as the perpetrators – remember that men are also victims of sexual assault, that women are sometimes the perpetrator, and that sexaul assault also occurs between members of the same sex. These types of sexual assault are far less common, but are no less serious or real. Our writers focus mainly on women as victims and men as perpetrators in their writing, but have advice that is relevant to and important for all. They discuss all the realities of sexual harassment while traveling, forms of sexual harassment, and instances of sexual violence or manipulation abroad.
...if you’re going out in Buenos Aires and someone tries to hit on you, telling them “no” is often considered a game. No is seen as a mandatory refusal to maintain appearances and is an invitation to keep trying. If you really want them to stop, you may have to step it up a notch by insulting them. It seems harsh, but it’s the name of the game. This is by no means the only – or even always the best strategy. It is important to make sure that you feel safe however you choose to respond.” - Trey Johnston, Switching Cultures, Switching Codes: Navigating Changing Meanings and Sexual Safety Abroad
...you almost certainly will find yourself in relationships of unequal power. These could be relationships with a supervisor, host family, teacher, employer, trip leader, etc. While these relationships are generally enormously helpful, comforting, and can provide a ‘home base’ abroad; there are instances where someone will abuse a position of power by engaging in sexual assault or harassment. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that sexual assault and harassment are never ok, are never your fault, and are always important to address.” Kristin Hultgren, Sexual Assault and Harassment in Relationships of Unequal Power
And everything in between. Our writers are real with you. This eBook is not meant to scare you or dissuade you from embarking on an international program. Rather, we want you to have all the resources and information you need to be happy, healthy, and successful while you’re traveling abroad.
As part of GoAbroad’s push for more inclusivity in travel abroad, our writers share their personal experiences, resources, and advice about sexual violence abroad. We want our readers to be inspired to travel, but always prioritize safety and well-being.
*Note: The terms sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are defined within this eBook, but used in varying contexts between each writer’s individual experience. If you’re interested in contributing to this ebook, you can email Editor Erin Oppenheim at firstname.lastname@example.org.