Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault
In some cultures, including France, male chauvinism might be more
prevalent or more overtly expressed than is typical in the U.S.
Women might experience or observe catcalls and other
sexually-charged attention on a more regular basis, which can feel
threatening. While it may seem counter to your principles, it is
recommended that you ignore the attention or feign a lack of
understanding, as engaging with aggressors can serve to encourage
them and may escalate the situation. Ask your local friends or host
family on how best to deal with such attention.
Review this article on sexual harassment in an international context.
Unfortunately, sexual assault can also happen overseas, and the
intercultural context presents certain challenges in this respect.
Lack of familiarity with the language, culture, and the area can
make students more vulnerable and less in a position to keep
themselves safe. Additionally, differences in cultural norms
regarding personal boundaries and romantic relationships can
sometimes lead to miscommunication regarding intention, expectation,
and consent. Students who experience sexual violence while abroad
should seek safety first.
Some tips on staying safe:
- Have fun, enjoy meeting new people, but donít throw caution
to the wind.
- Follow your gut. Many victims have a ďfeelingĒ something
isnít right just before an assault takes place.
- You donít have to be polite. It is okay to say no.
- Stay with the group or person you are traveling with.
- Be aware of cultural norms in the country you are traveling
to. Looking at someone in the eyes when you speak to them in the
USA is normal. In another country it may mean you are interested
in that person. Watch how locals behave to get cultural cues.
- Blend in with the crowd.
- Be aware of your surroundings.