Two Argentinian backpackers murdered during their holiday in Ecuador

Women Should Be Able to Travel Alone Without Being Afraid

By now, news has spread around the world about the two Argentinian backpackers – Maria Coni and Marina Menegazzo – who were murdered during their trip to Ecuador. Most people heard through Guadalupe Acosta’s Facebook post, which went viral.

The Facebook post (excerpted below and translated in English on Huffington Post) is told from the perspective of the murdered 21 and 22-year-old travelers and launched a worldwide discussion about solo female travelers. For Latin American women who travel, 60 percent of them are sexually assaulted during their trip. Many women travelers even go on birth control to prepare for a potential assault.

Acosta’s post focused on all these issues, but particularly focused on the victim blaming that women travelers are subjected to:

Yesterday I was killed. … But worse than death, was the humiliation that came after.

From the moment they found my inert dead body nobody asked where the son of a bitch that ended my dreams, my hopes and my life was.

 No, instead they started asking me useless questions. Me, can you imagine? A dead girl, who can not speak, who can not defend herself.

What clothes were you wearing?

Why were you alone?

Why would a woman travel alone?

You were in a dangerous neighborhood. What did you expect?

They questioned my parents for giving me wings, for letting me be independent, like any human being. They told them we were surely on drugs and were asking for it, that we must’ve done something, that they should have looked after us.

And only once dead did I understand that no, that to the rest of the world I was not equal to a man. That dying was my fault, and it will always be so. But if the headline would have read ‘two young male travelers were killed’ people would be expressing their condolences and with their false and hypocritical double standard speech would demand the highest penalty for the murderers.

The hashtag #viajosola, or “I travel alone,” started trending on social media. Women shared their own stories of solo travel and spoke out about the right to be able to explore the world without fear of harassment, sexual assault and death.

While men are applauded for their adventurous spirit to travel the world and gain new experiences outside their homeland, women are often questioned. Stories like Natalee Holloway, Sarai Sierra, Lucie Blackman and many, many more make headlines frequently. Many others go unnoticed. The U.S. Passport and International Travel website even has a page dedicated to safe travel tips just for women. This is the grim reality of how often solo female travelers are harassed, assaulted, kidnapped and even murdered.

Tips on the website include things like “Pay attention to local laws and customs because they can be quite different from the United States, especially if you intend to travel alone. Avoid dark, isolated areas at night.” Men, on the other hand? Well they can come and go as they please.

This is what keeps so many women from experiencing the world – because the world is not friendly to women. That shouldn’t be the case. Instead of using Coni and Menegazzo as cautionary tales, we should be concerned with how to make the world a better place for women.

Photo Credit: FarleyRolandEndeman


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