Women's Issues

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You may find that stereotypes about American women abound overseas.  The stereotypes, as you can imagine, are not always flattering.  Rather, they tend to suggest that US women are very sexually active, most likely using TV and movies as examples.

Words of wisdom from women travelers:

  • Be careful of talking about sex.  It may equate as a come on.
  • Be careful in asking men to dance in clubs.
  • Be aware of going to clubs alone.  This may be interpreted as an "open invitation".                
  • Do not hitchhike.
  • Do not respond to the many catcalls you may receive.  Just walk on.             
  • Be firm and assertive when you say NO. Be clear and direct to be certain that your intention and the words are understood.          
  • Be aware that things which may appear as normal to you, such as getting drunk or asking someone to walk you home, may be misconstrued as an indication of poor character and place you in uncomfortable situations.
  • Violence against women is a growing concern all over the world.  Sometimes when women are out of familiar environment, guards are let down.  Always be alert and use the same safety precautions as you would in Pittsburgh, no matter where you are going.  If something negative should happen to you, go to your program coordinator for assistance.  Unfortunately, in many countries the issue of female harassment is handled quite lightly and you may be treated accordingly by host nationals.  However, both your on-site program staff and the Study Abroad Office take these concerns very seriously and will do whatever they can to help you.
On the same note, women are subject to the same kinds of dangers abroad as they are in the United States, including the danger of rape.  The occurrence of rape is often accompanied by the use of date-rape drugs, such as roofies and GHB (it produces a state similar to that of being drunk).  Again, use the same precautions abroad that you would in the US, and think about these three simple common sense measures that could prevent you from being drugged:
Do not leave your drink unattended or exchange drinks with anyone else
Don’t accept a drink from anyone, no matter how nice they seem
Avoid drinking from a large open container