Sexual violence is a topic that, in my opinion, isn't talked about enough within the travel world. We sometimes acknowledge that while it is safer than many people believe for women - and to a lesser extent trans people - to travel, there are certain risks, including sexual violence, that unfortunately do come to fruition. But I often see the topic of sexual violence being brushed under the rug. In some cases this may be because we don't want spoil our love for adventure and desire to learn about the diverse, beautiful, and wild world we live in by ignoring these challenges. In other cases it may be because we're scared to speak out, feel ashamed, or any other multitude of reasons.
But as long as we remain silent, sexual violence will continue to be a problem - both in general and within the travel industry. I believe lifting up the voices of survivors can be a powerful step in raising awareness and creating accountability. It is far from a fix-all solution, and it is not an action everyone can or wants to take (and that's okay), but it's a step that some of us can take towards making a difference, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant it may be.
When I recently shared on Facebook my story of sexual harassment/assault during my backpacking trip through eastern Europe, I got messages from fellow backpackers who revealed they had also experienced sexual violence whilst travelling. And I know there are countless more stories that have yet to be told. Which is why I wanted to create a platform to give survivors a chance to speak out so we can start addressing sexual violence within the travel industry.
Whether it was a stranger on the street or on a train, a hostel worker, tour guide, airport security, or anyone else, your story is important. Whether you were travelling internationally or domestically, whether it was a long-term backpacking trip, a weekend getaway, camping trip, or luxurious holiday, your voice matters. I don't want to collect these stories to scare people off from travel. Rather, I want to reveal the extent of the problem, and create a call to action for the travel industry - more specifically the men who dominate the industry - to begin to take responsibility in addressing the epidemic.
Do you have a story of sexual violence and travel? Share it using the link below.