SAFETY & SOLO FEMALE TRAVEL
The discovery of the body of Sarai Sierra, an American woman traveling solo to Istanbul, is reported. She was murdered.
I’m not going anywhere near Istanbul this spring (that’s my July trip) — I’m heading for Peru in two months — and although I’ve traveled by myself all around the world and know that random murders happen everywhere (My hometown of Chicago being no exception), the news reminds me of the vulnerability of being a woman traveling solo in a foreign country.
IS PERU SAFE?
I receive an email from a friend containing a link to a post about Peru on the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security site, which reads:
The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens of a potential kidnapping threat in the Cusco area. The Embassy has received information that members of a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap U.S. citizen tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area. Possible targets and methods are not known and the threat is credible at least through the end of February 2013. For the moment, personal travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to the Cusco region, including Machu Picchu, has been prohibited and official travel is severely restricted as a result of this threat.
Well, that’s just great. I’m traveling to Peru — including the “Cusco and Machu Picchu area” — in six weeks. The criminal organization in question is The Shining Path, which (according to Wikipedia) is a Maoist guerilla insurgency. Really? There are Maoist guerillas in our midst? I haven’t heard of The Shining Path since, like, fifth grade and now the bastards are threatening my vacation.
Is Peru safe? Should I reschedule my trip? I don’t know.
This just in: an America couple bicycling through Peru have gone missing. The common, obvious speculation is that they were kidnapped or killed.
I need to decide if I should take this trip to Peru at the end of the month or if the risk of danger is great enough that I should cancel it. I turn to the U.S. Department of State website to determine if Peru is safe:
The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group remains active in Peru and has previously expressed an intention to target U.S. interests.
Violent crime, including carjacking, assault, sexual assault, and armed robbery is common in Lima and other large cities.
In the recent past, there have been a number of cases of armed robbery, rape, other sexual assault, and attempted rape of U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists in Arequipa and in Cusco city, as well as in the outlying areas in the vicinity of various Incan ruins. These assaults have occurred both during daylight hours and at night.
Thieves often smash car windows at traffic lights to grab jewelry, purses, backpacks, or other visible items from a car.
Is Peru safe for travel? Is Peru safe for a solo, female traveler? Clearly not. Crap. I should cancel my trip.