Travelling Alone As A Woman

Izzy Rodney

In the midst of recent news, with the loss of Sabina Nessa who was killed in Kidbrooke on her way to meet her friend at the pub, travelling as a woman can be scary – especially when alone.

As a university student myself, who is only twenty years of age, I can openly admit I sometimes get worried when I leave my house – whether it is day or night. Growing up, I was made aware of the dangers in the world by my protective father who always made sure I was safe and and I am very grateful for the advice he gave me in regards to how to behave with strangers.

It feels awful having to reassure my eighty-year-old nan that I am being safe and conscious of my surroundings

However, I know that many may not have had this shadow of protectiveness and instead simply have trust in the world and society as a whole. Sadly, this cannot be the case anymore when we have women leaving their homes and not returning back that night. It feels awful having to reassure my eighty-year-old nan that I am being safe and conscious of my surroundings due to her worries over me going to the local corner shop. Why do we need to live in fear of going out alone or even going out at all because of the potential threat of violence?

Sabina Nessa, a twenty-eight year old teacher in Kidbrooke, South-East London, was just on her way to meet her friend at the pub which was less than ten minutes from her home; only for her to sadly never arrive after she was attacked in the evening of the 17th September 2021. This attack was committed by a man only six months after the murder of Sarah Everard who was murdered by a police officer.

Campaigners are urging authorities to take action in order to tackle what they refer to as an ‘epidemic of violence towards women in the UK.’ Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said it was “devastating” that little had been done to address male violence against women despite widespread demands for action after the Everard tragedy.

32% of women in the UK feel unsafe or very unsafe when walking alone in their local area at night

Simon also highlighted how it has become so normalised for these acts of violence against women that we must now navigate our own lives in order to protect ourselves against these horrible people such as by sharing our location with friends and family, purchasing and carrying around a rape alarm, watching over our drinks in case of spiking… the list goes on.

Data shows that 32% of women in the UK feel unsafe or very unsafe when walking alone in their local area at night. Meanwhile, only 13% of men expressed the same concern. What many fail to realise is that even the act of catcalling is a form of harassment for girls and women and generates fear.

How can you feel safer when travelling?

It is important to remember that travelling alone, especially at night, can be very dangerous and that precautions should be made – just in case and to be safe! Even if you are avoiding dark areas and walking in well-lit places, it is still important to protect yourself. You can do this in numerous ways:

1. Always make sure you carry your phone and that its battery is at least above 50% when going out so that you always have it as a lifeline in case of an emergency. (It is important to remember not to be walking and completely infatuated with your phone screen as this is when you are most vulnerable; as you are preoccupied and less conscious of your surroundings!)

2. Make sure your friends and family know where you are going so at least someone can help you if in a time of danger.

3. Carry a deterrent such as a rape alarm or whistle. An alarm or whistle helps with alerting others in the surrounding area so that you can get help as well as possibly putting off attackers.

4. Especially in the Winter, try to go out in a pair or group if you can. And if you are alone, try to walk in well-lit areas that have other pedestrians!

Izzy Rodney

Featured image courtesy of  João Ferrão via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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