The New York Times calls it travel’s “darker side.” With cruise ships and other travel companies offering all-inclusive packages to locales across the globe, more women are choosing to travel alone. Sure, solo travel has its benefits. Many women follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love example, using vacations to heal and to get in touch with their needs, desires, and dreams. Yet, solo travel also has its risks. The New York Times recently reported that a woman was killed while visiting Turkey. She wasn’t taking needless risks—she just happened to find herself at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The sad reality is that female travelers are at greater risk if they journey alone to countries where women’s rights and cultural norms are not on par with those of the U.S.– many of which are destinations that cruise ships frequently call upon. The Laws of some foreign countries regarding sexual assault and rape are vastly different than laws in the U.S. or in Europe. For instance, when a Norwegian woman was raped in Dubai, she was jailed for having “unlawful sex.” In some countries, reporting a rape can put a woman at risk of being jailed—or worse.
So what should single female cruise passengers do to remain as safe as possible while sailing abroad? Here are a few tips from our cruise ship rape lawyers.
For one, female travelers who plan on cruising alone to a foreign country should consider learning about the laws the individual laws each nation employs when it comes to sexual assault, including the laws and procedures for reporting crimes. For instance, if you’re sailing to a country that criminalizes victims who come forward with rape allegations and considers the victims to be the ones at fault, it may be wise to contact the U.S. consulate rather than contacting local police—provided that you are safe and not in immediate danger – and seek asylum with them.
In general, women who travel abroad face many more challenges than men, and not just when it comes to reporting sexual assault. For instance, some countries place strict prohibitions on the kind of clothing that is considered acceptable for women to wear in public. Some countries prohibit women from wearing clothing that reveals their arms or legs while inside places of worship. Others require women to cover their arms, legs, and even their faces at all times. In these nations, it can be dangerous to break from these strict customs. Female cruisers should take some time to review the local practices in the countries they will be sailing to so as to be fully prepared.
Still, despite the skewed laws in some countries regarding women’s rights and the persecution of sexual assault cases, it still doesn’t stop cruise ships from boycotting these ports of call. At the end of the day, it’s up to travelers to do their own research. Solo female cruisers need to consider the local customs and laws of a given locale and carefully weigh how they will choose to explore a new location. In some cases, travel agencies and cruise lines won’t publicize potentially dangerous situations, so prospective cruisers will need to take care and use discretion when making plans.
Finally, it’s also important to note that women don’t need to travel to remote destinations to be at risk of becoming the victims of a cruise ship rape or sexual assault crime. For example, Mexico and Honduras – two of the most frequented cruise destinations – have some of the highest sexual crime rates. Fortunately, the U.S. State Department of State often releases travel warnings to the public, which can help cruise passengers stay aware of the current situation in these areas and assess the risk of becoming the target of a sexual predator.
Women cruising alone should also have a plan in place for what to do if something were to go wrong. In some cases, justice can take months to years, and it may be beneficial to contact a cruise ship rape attorney with knowledge of the laws each country upholds and who can protect their rights.