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Alert: Exhibitionist on the CP after Barcelos

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
I had an unpleasant encounter yesterday morning while walking from Barcelos to Casa da Fernanda. It took place between Vila Boa and Lijó, at the place where the path goes toward the forest after crossing the railroad tracks. A man emerged from the forest and sat on the stone marker with the yellow arrow indicating that the path turns to the left. As I approached, he stood up, revealing that he was not wearing pants, and waved his junk in my direction. I kept walking steadily without reacting, so he grabbed himself and jiggled furiously while running backward in front of me (a rather impressive feat of athleticism, I guess). I kept my head down to avoid looking at him and continued walking, and finally he turned around and ran forward down the path. I waited a bit for him to get away, and then continued forward. As I rounded a curve, I saw him again ahead of me, this time with his pants on. I stopped again; he waited for me a few minutes, and then disappeared into the fog. After I was sure he was gone, I continued into Lijó and stopped at the Cafe Arantes, where I told the waitress what had happened and asked to speak to the police. The waitress told the cafe owner, who called the police for me, and I eventually made a formal report, but it was almost certainly too late to catch the man. Both the police and the cafe owner are on the lookout now, so hopefully there will be no further incidents, but I urge solo peregrinas to be cautious in this area.
 

Dave C.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2016)
SJ to Santo Domingo (2017)
Santo Domingo to Fromista (2018)
SJPdP to Burgos (2019)
So sorry for what happened to you. Hopefully you have a safe rest of your walk. And thanks for making the report.
Stay safe and Buen Camino!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Well done for writing here. Thank God you are well, and able to tell your story. And continue. I have a vague memory of something similar when we walked the Portuguese from Porto. I was going to be flippant, but this is not a joke. Well done for reporting and may you keep going, and always have your antenna in top condition.
 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
In case anyone is interested in the process of making a police report while walking the CP: I stayed at the cafe for more than an hour waiting for the police to show up—the cafe owner assured me that this is normal in Portugal. I finally got tired of waiting, so I gave my phone number to the waitress (who speaks good English) and walked on. She called me about an hour and a half later to ask where I was, on behalf of the police. After some debate on where precisely I was in the countryside, we settled on “after Tamel.” The police, along with the cafe owner, drove down to meet me, and I made the police report by the side of the Camino. They sent two uniformed officers—a man who spoke good English, and a woman who spoke some English. I’m sure the man could have taken the report by himself, but I appreciated that they sent a woman along to make me feel more comfortable. The police treated me with respect and took my complaint very seriously. They were very apologetic that such a thing could happen in their country, and they assured me that nothing bad you read on the Internet about the CP is true—especially there are no nasty dogs 😁 All in all, reporting to the police was fairly painless, and I encourage others to do so as well whenever necessary.
 

marilyn van graan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012) VDLP (2014) Portuguese (2015)
What a brave soul you are - I absolutely salute you and thank you so very much for sharing your story - not only the horrible incident but your reactions during and afterwards. May you continue to have a blessed and wonderful camino further. Much loveXXX
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances , Pamplona Burgos august 2018 Burgos to Santiago 19 /04 to 20/05/2019
I had an unpleasant encounter yesterday morning while walking from Barcelos to Casa da Fernanda. It took place between Vila Boa and Lijó, at the place where the path goes toward the forest after crossing the railroad tracks. A man emerged from the forest and sat on the stone marker with the yellow arrow indicating that the path turns to the left. As I approached, he stood up, revealing that he was not wearing pants, and waved his junk in my direction. I kept walking steadily without reacting, so he grabbed himself and jiggled furiously while running backward in front of me (a rather impressive feat of athleticism, I guess). I kept my head down to avoid looking at him and continued walking, and finally he turned around and ran forward down the path. I waited a bit for him to get away, and then continued forward. As I rounded a curve, I saw him again ahead of me, this time with his pants on. I stopped again; he waited for me a few minutes, and then disappeared into the fog. After I was sure he was gone, I continued into Lijó and stopped at the Cafe Arantes, where I told the waitress what had happened and asked to speak to the police. The waitress told the cafe owner, who called the police for me, and I eventually made a formal report, but it was almost certainly too late to catch the man. Both the police and the cafe owner are on the lookout now, so hopefully there will be no further incidents, but I urge solo peregrinas to be cautious in this area.
Thanks ! You have been really cold blooded!! Congratulations!!
There seem to be a problem on the Camino Portuguese , it is not the first time similar incidents have been reported on this site about the CP
I walked the Frances last year and will start from Porto end of April ( after having spent a few days in Porto this Christmas and fell
In love with h the place !)
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
All on Amazon
Sorry this happened. You are very brave.
This is not to discount your experience, but for those who are planning their first trip to Spain or Portugal they should know they are "statistically" safer on the Camino in Spain than in high crime countries like the United Stated where I live.

I would hate to someone not do the Camino, because they thought it was more dangerous than staying at home.

Instances of rape are eight times more in the USA per capita than Spain (27.3 vs 3.4) and violent crime also about eight times more in the USA than Spain (88.8 vs 10.4 per 100,000.
Considering that you are walking, and not in a car the whole time, makes the Camino even safer.
 

DeansFamily

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 18/916/10/17 Muxia/Finisterre 18/10-22/10/17 Norte 21/4-29/5/18 Primitive 20/9-5/10/18 VdlP
We drove through much of Portugal last year after completing a Camino and observed a large amount of prostitution being carried out on forest roads connected to main roads. Women would be standing or sitting on stools at these intersections dressed ready to do business with the many trucks and cars passing by daily. Some of these areas were where the CP passes through. Serial pests harassing peregrinas are probably linked to this practice. The Portuguese is one Camino I would never attempt alone, and we always warn women and families to be vigilant and use common sense when they walk this way. We haven’t seen this style of prostitution in Spain but have observed similar driving through Italy.
Stay safe peregrinas and don’t let these grubs spoil your experience. :(
 

Carol Larson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April (2017)
I had an unpleasant encounter yesterday morning while walking from Barcelos to Casa da Fernanda. It took place between Vila Boa and Lijó, at the place where the path goes toward the forest after crossing the railroad tracks. A man emerged from the forest and sat on the stone marker with the yellow arrow indicating that the path turns to the left. As I approached, he stood up, revealing that he was not wearing pants, and waved his junk in my direction. I kept walking steadily without reacting, so he grabbed himself and jiggled furiously while running backward in front of me (a rather impressive feat of athleticism, I guess). I kept my head down to avoid looking at him and continued walking, and finally he turned around and ran forward down the path. I waited a bit for him to get away, and then continued forward. As I rounded a curve, I saw him again ahead of me, this time with his pants on. I stopped again; he waited for me a few minutes, and then disappeared into the fog. After I was sure he was gone, I continued into Lijó and stopped at the Cafe Arantes, where I told the waitress what had happened and asked to speak to the police. The waitress told the cafe owner, who called the police for me, and I eventually made a formal report, but it was almost certainly too late to catch the man. Both the police and the cafe owner are on the lookout now, so hopefully there will be no further incidents, but I urge solo peregrinas to be cautious in this area.
I am so sorry this happened to you. You were brave & handled this situation well. Thanks for the warning.
 

Dani7

Stop wishing, start doing.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
When the time is right
This is not the first quite similar incidence I’ve heard happening to peregrinas on the CP. thank you for posting and letting us know. You kept your wits about you and were very very brave.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
There is continuing concern about incidents affecting female pilgrims. We reiterate the advice given by a number of pilgrim associations and the Spanish authorities:

Before you set out, programme the emergency number 112 into your telephone.

Consider downloading this App issued by the Spanish government:

https://alertcops.ses.mir.es/mialertcops/info/info.xhtml

The app allows anyone in Spain to send an alert from a mobile device "smartphone'"straight to the police..

If you feel threatened or uncomfortable or if you are assaulted in any way TRY TO REMOVE yourself to a place of safety immediately

Call the police – the best number to use is 112 which covers all of Spain (and much of Europe) and which has operators who speak English.

And please, please, REPORT all incidents to the police. Too many of these unlawful aggressions are never reported, which means that the full extent of the problem is hidden from the authorities.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 CF;
Hospitalera, Zamora 2017, Hospitalera Grañón 2018, Hospitalera Estella 2019
Does anyone know if there is an app for Portugal?
 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
I had read about similar incidents on the CP, but most of them were close to Lisbon, and the general consensus seemed to be it was safe for women to walk alone above Porto. That’s one reason I decided to post the story—seems no place is really safe from this stuff 😢
 

Sal Miller

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances
On our 2018 Frances, we had a peregrina friend get accosted by a gun waving man just on the outskirts of Lograno. She spent the next two days walking with my wife and I until she could adequately recover from her experience. She then went on to finish her Camino.

I am thinking there is a way for us all to fight back and bring this quickly to an end. There are body cams available that are quite small and would fit on our pack straps with little inconvenience and they don't cost that much. They run in a continuous loop, recording everything they see onto a micro chip. If a person was wearing something like this when accosted, it would be a great help to the authorities in identifying the culprit. If enough of us use these, it is possible that they will pick up suspicious characters who might not bother us, but are waiting for someone down the line, or even someone who is walking ahead of us, thus providing further documentation for the authorities.

Only as an example of what I'm talking about, here is a link to provide an example. They are easy to find with a quick search on the internet.

 

Quadragesima

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2020)
Actually prostitution is legal in Portugal, however "procurement or pimping" is not and the Portuguese police limit their efforts to arresting the madams and pimps. I actually saw two "clubas de chiquetas" right on the Portuguese route which are thinly disguised as dance clubs. Many of the woman are not local, but they are immigrants from Eastern European countries. Sadly they are being exploited.
Exhibitionist can be a scary bunch - I suppose from their side of things that's the point. Most psychologist will tell you that they are non-violent offenders however, and many benefit from therapy which a sociopath like a rapist does not.
As a practical matter for women, police will suggest a loud dog whistle as effective protection. Flashers will seek isolated places and the whistle makes the scene more public.
Yes, I think a whistle would have been effective in this situation, and I will probably carry one if I walk alone again. I agree that most exhibitionists are non-violent, and I perceived this man to be more of a nuisance than an actual threat—I probably would have responded differently if I felt he actually intended to harm me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
So sorry to hear this happened to you.
Why are most of these reports from Portugal?
What's going on there?
Well, as someone who's spent a fair bit of time in rural Portugal lately, and tries to read rural Portuguese news--as written for the locals, rather than the expat community--regularly, let me come up with a few guesses (in no particular order of importance, just as I thought of them):

1/ My impression is that Portugal is a more secular country than Spain, and those who are still devoutly Catholic take the pilgrimage to SdC less seriously because (my paraphrase) "everyone knows that true Catholics go to Fatima anyway." So in Portuguese eyes, you're halfway between being a tourist (fair game) and being seriously religious. And what's with this "walking alone on your pilgrimage" anyway? Anyone knows pilgrims walk in groups of 40, along the highway, wearing fluorescent vests!

2/ The towns are farther apart, there are way less pilgrims, so there is more unsupervised opportunity for shocking "ladies" by sadly screwed-up guys.

3/ The tourism industry in Spain is much more invested in camino tourism than is that of Portugal and the Portuguese caminho's relative popularity is quite new; thus many Portuguese towns' police forces are pretty much unaware of the particular needs and interests of "lady pilgrims." (BUT DOING THEIR BEST--see the original poster's view above about how the police handled the situation once they were made aware of it.)

4/ Although urban Portugal, the highly touristed Algarve, and many younger professional Portuguese are surprisingly progressive, compared to North American images of Portugal (at least this was the case for me), the smaller towns and village are mostly populated by elders due to the hollowing out of Portugal's interior since the 2008-09 economic meltdown. Those families who stayed are much more like small-town North Americans than like urban dwellers anywhere. I suspect that unaggressive exhibitionism is possibly not considered that big a deal by the locals. "After all, these women are walking by themselves in the woods. What do they expect?" (again my imaginary paraphrase, based on my projection of how my rural Portuguese neighbours and acquaintances would react)

Please accept that I am in no way justifying this behaviour; it's awful, no matter where it happens. Something similar happened to me in France, in the late 60s, when I was a teenager. It was disturbing and scary then; I would be shaken if it happened to me now, I know.

In spite of the occasional occurrence of something like this, Portugal is a wonderful and very safe country, in global terms. The average man is quite respectful and women are impressively independent. There is no comparison, to me, between the level of personal independence and security that I feel in a small town in Portugal, compared to being in many parts of most cities in North America.

Portugal is a country in transition, and I feel, handling that transition amazingly well.

Bom caminho!

(By the way, emergency in Portugal is 112 as well, and the only thing I've come across that's close to being an app for pilgrims is this, and I don't know how consistently or regularly it's monitored)

S. O. S. Peregrino

Telefone apoio a peregrinos: [telephone support for pilgrims]
(+351) 915 595 213 [in Portugal, you shouldn't need the 351--this is country code for Portugal]

(from the https://www.vialusitana.org/ home page)
 
Last edited:

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
So sorry to hear this happened to you.
Why are most of these reports from Portugal?
What's going on there?
I don't know. In Galicia there is a long tradition of women walking alone to work in the fields and sell products in the feiras without any problem. North Portugal, that is very similar to Galicia, I'm sure that has the same tradition.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I wonder about the assertion that this kind of stuff happens more in Portugal than in Spain. I did some scanning through EU documents and the two countries are very very close in terms of all kinds of measures of different crimes against women, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc. Hard, or maybe impossible, to find statistics on flashing since so much of that behavior is not illegal under the laws of either country. I think that if it is done with an intent to intimidate it can be the subject of some criminal or administrative penalties. But I digress..... my only point really is to say that I don’t think I’m convinced that this happens more in Portugal than in Spain.
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino"
"Slow Camino"
"The First Pilgrim"
All on Amazon
Regarding whistles as a crime deterrent for woman- I misspoke when I suggested a "dog whistle"
Actually the loudest whistles are 1) police whistles 2) coach whistles 3) marine or survival whistles

When using these blow three times long/three times short - equals SOS the universal distress signal. I learned this from Coast Guard boating course.

Here's and example on line for $17.
Windstorm World's 2nd Loudest Outdoor, Emergency, Safety, Marine, Police, Underwater, Survival Whistle | Compact & Hand Held
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
Well done pergrina,you reacted very well,I am sure you were frightened. Hope the police catch him. Buen Camino.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I wonder about the assertion that this kind of stuff happens more in Portugal than in Spain. I did some scanning through EU documents and the two countries are very very close in terms of all kinds of measures of different crimes against women, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc. Hard, or maybe impossible, to find statistics on flashing since so much of that behavior is not illegal under the laws of either country. I think that if it is done with an intent to intimidate it can be the subject of some criminal or administrative penalties. But I digress..... my only point really is to say that I don’t think I’m convinced that this happens more in Portugal than in Spain.
I don't know whether "flashing" is more common in Portugal than in Spain, and for me this is not the issue. My impression/observation is that among women walking the pilgrim routes who post on this forum more such incidents are reported as happening in Portugal than in Spain. To express it differently, I think it reasonable to conclude that women pilgrims walking in Portugal alone, or with another woman, are more likely to be accosted in this way than if they were walking in Spain. To me, their stories of these experiences show disgusting and often attempted threatening behaviour by the males involved, sometimes indicating that they are choosing isolated areas on pilgrim routes to lie in wait for pilgrim women. This behaviour repels me more than frightens me. But I find that the idea of being accosted in this way keeps me away from areas where it seems more likely to happen, in this case, on the pilgrim routes in Portugal.
 

DeansFamily

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 18/916/10/17 Muxia/Finisterre 18/10-22/10/17 Norte 21/4-29/5/18 Primitive 20/9-5/10/18 VdlP
I wonder about the assertion that this kind of stuff happens more in Portugal than in Spain.
I agree that incidents like this happen in Spain as well. I spoke to women walking the Norte and Primitivo at the same time as us and they told us of being flashed, of being invited to get their water topped up and being groped, and of being followed. Some of these women reported the incidents (the ones groped when collecting water were in the same location on the same day) and they were all walking alone. There is obvious prostitution in Spain, there are numerous “nightclubs” right on many Caminos. The VdlP has plenty, the Camino cuts through the carpark of one going into Grimaldo. But times must be hard as quite a few have closed up shop. Unfortunately now women who decide to walk alone have to understand there is a risk this could happen to them and either walk with / near others or have a plan to extricate themselves safely. Chance favours the prepared.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
Better yet, take a photo of the offender and show it to the police.
 

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