While it is widely recognized in our society that women are equal, capable and independent, and that it is their right to do anything and go anywhere, this American attitude is not necessarily found or accepted worldwide. Attitudes toward women vary tremendously, and awareness of this is an important aspect in preparing to enter a new culture. Before you leave the U.S., you should speak with others who have lived in the country you will visit to get an idea of how women are viewed at your study abroad destination, particularly in terms of safety or harassment issues. Here is some very basic advice:
- Women alone can encounter harassment. Pretend you don’t hear or that you are preoccupied.
- What you may perceive as harmless chatting can be interpreted as sexual or inviting; be mindful and take nothing for granted
- Dress conservatively, and never sit in empty areas.
- Be as aware when traveling abroad as you are when you travel at home. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings, and make smart decisions.
- Sexual Assault
The risk of sexual assault exists abroad just as it does at home. Your program provider or host institution should inform you both of ways to minimize your risk of being assaulted and also the procedure to follow in the instance that you are the victim of assault. If you are the victim of any type of crime you should immediately:
- Go to a safe place
- GET HELP
- Get a friend or someone you trust to be with you
- Call your program provider or the international officer at your host university.
In addition, in the case of sexual assault, you may wish to request advice from individuals at Wellesley College who have appropriate training and skills to help you:
- The Health Service Tel 781.283.2810
- The Stone Center Tel 781.283.2839
- The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center Tel 617.492.RAPE
- If you can, write down everything you can remember about the rape, or have a friend write it for you.
Preventing and Handling Emergencies
- If you find yourself in a potentially bad situation, try to walk or run away. If you cannot, try to seek assistance or distract attention to yourself.
- Know how to say ‘help’ in the local language, or try another word such as ‘fire’ in order to attract attention.
- Familiarize yourself with the local telephone system and emergency number.
- Keep name and phone # of nearby clinic and hospital in your area in bag AND in phone. www.usembassy.gov for more info.
- Notify your local on-site contact.
- Provide your family (and any others who may need to know) with emergency contact information. Keep them informed of your travel plans.
- Travel with a Buddy and Always have an emergency plan – e.g., letting someone know where you are at all times; arranging to call a specific person in an emergency; having a pre-determined rendezvous point when traveling with friends in case of separation.
- If an emergency, politically volatile situation, or natural disaster occurs where you are traveling, be sure to contact a friend or family member as soon as possible to let them know whether or not you are safe.
- In an emergency, you can also call the Citizens Emergency Center in the U.S. 202.647.5255.
Don’t take any unknown drugs or excessive alcohol
….stay in control to stay safe!
Make good choices, watch out for each other!!