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Warning to women: man following women

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specialk

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte
Dear friends,

A couple of women I have met on camino del Norte have been followed by the same man. He is Brazilian and has long hair in a pony tail, I think his name is Norbert. He has followed a few different women and waited for them if they have gone to the toilet or to eat. He has tried to touch the women on the ear etc and also tried to kiss them. It seems if you are really clear with your words and ask him to leave, he does. But women walking by yourself be really clear you don’t want to followed if you encounter him. I think he is lonely so men if you meet him, please make friends.

Buen Camino!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Dear friends,

A couple of women I have met on camino del Norte have been followed by the same man. He is Brazilian and has long hair in a pony tail, I think his name is Norbert. He has followed a few different women and waited for them if they have gone to the toilet or to eat. He has tried to touch the women on the ear etc and also tried to kiss them. It seems if you are really clear with your words and ask him to leave, he does. But women walking by yourself be really clear you don’t want to followed if you encounter him. I think he is lonely so men if you meet him, please make friends.

Buen Camino!
This sounds like something that should be reported. This is not a sign of loneliness, this is a sign of harassment/assault. Please tell your friends, @specialk, that the best thing to do would be to report him when they are in a town where people can confirm where he is staying. If they don’t speak Spanish, talk to the hospitalero/a, who will surely help. You can be sure the police will talk to him. I don’t know if your friends would want to make a formal “denuncia” (complaint/accusation) to the Guardia Civil (that might be the next step if the talking to doesnt change the behavior) but this is definitely something that should be followed up. If for no other reason than to try to stop an unpleasant, repetitive occurrence, both for them and other women.

I know many women don’t want to “make a scene,” but this sounds like something that is not going to stop without some intervention.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Thank you for the warning!
I guess I am one of those who never would have called the police for things like that, due to that the police in my home country, Norway, would never have enough resources to follow it up if it happened in Norway.
May be Spanish police have more resources to do that kind of work?
I am sorry to say that through my years of studying for my education in Oslo I nearly every day met a flasher or two walking through the royal garden/ park on the way to my university, but I never thought of reporting it.
Young women in those days were taught self-defense and relied on that in such coinsidencies.
For us non-Spanish speeking people the level for reporting to the police is even higher. I have been through a session of reporting being robbed at the airport train in Barcelona some years ago, on the way home from my second camino, and it was not easy since the police at Barcelona Sants spoke no English at all.
So please do not judge the ones who does not report, it is not easy in a foreign country.
The statistically most dangerous situation, at least in Norway, is still to be married!
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I guess I am one of those who never would have called the police for things like that, due to that the police in my home country, Norway, would never have enough resources to follow it up if it happened in Norway.
May be Spanish police have more resources to do that kind of work?
The Guardia Civil has a mission to protect pilgrims on the Caminos and I have recently seen media reports about their activity to stop this nuisance behavior. They appear to take this seriously. You should not assume that an incident is too trivial to report. If someone was a nuisance to you, they may behave worse toward a more vulnerable person who follows you.
If you are worried about communicating in Spanish, you could download the Alertcops app and use it to inform the police of your report:
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept-Nov 2016)
Camino Podiensis/Le Puy (Sept 2019)
Camino Frances (Oct 2019)
Right, let’s all be super clear on what loneliness is vs. blatant harassment and personal boundary violation. Asking men to “make friends with him” isn’t going to resolve the issue. Rather we need to call upon men to be fellow allies to female pilgrims.

If wrestling with “do I report to the police or don’t I? Remember this, you could potentially be saving a life.
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Absolutely worth documenting. Even if he is not stopped and arrested it would be a good thing to have a documented "paper trail". This paper trail could also assist in his direction of travel and to assist in notifying the upcoming areas/jurisdictions police to be aware of his movements.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I had a similar situation on the Camino Frances during a January camino a few years ago. The ladies reported to several of us (men) that a Spanish pilgrim was doing the same type of behavior. We had a talk with him which was not very satisfactory as he claimed that it was not true and continued it until we had stronger words with him and made sure that we watched him any time there were women around him. He finally disappeared....probably to harrass a different group, unfortunately. The behavior never quite got to the point that a report to the police could be made. The answer in this case was to report it to the men in the group walking and staying in the same albergues.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Dear friends,

A couple of women I have met on camino del Norte have been followed by the same man. He is Brazilian and has long hair in a pony tail, I think his name is Norbert. He has followed a few different women and waited for them if they have gone to the toilet or to eat. He has tried to touch the women on the ear etc and also tried to kiss them. It seems if you are really clear with your words and ask him to leave, he does. But women walking by yourself be really clear you don’t want to followed if you encounter him. I think he is lonely so men if you meet him, please make friends.

Buen Camino!
The LAST thing this is, is a lonely man that should be befriended. This is a potentially dangerous man. Enough with for lack of a better word, political correctness or compassion. He needs to be reported immediately, questioned and if reports are true should be deported immediately. A woman attacked or harassed by a man like this and sympathy for the man rather than the victim makes my daughters and women worldwide a little more unsafe. Would you say the same if this was your daughter he was making unwanted advances towards? I am sorry to say this and I hope I don't get into trouble but your empathy is almost as disturbing to me as the warning about this person.
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept-Nov 2016)
Camino Podiensis/Le Puy (Sept 2019)
Camino Frances (Oct 2019)
The LAST thing this is, is a lonely man that should be befriended. This is a potentially dangerous man. Enough with for lack of a better word, political correctness or compassion. He needs to be reported immediately, questioned and if reports are true should be deported immediately. A woman attacked or harassed by a man like this and sympathy for the man rather than the victim makes my daughters and women worldwide a little more unsafe. Would you say the same if this was your daughter he was making unwanted advances towards? I am sorry to say this and I hope I don't get into trouble but your empathy is almost as disturbing to me as the warning about this person.
Thank you for voicing this. I was also put off by the OP’s sympathy for the harasser.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I was also put off by the OP’s sympathy for the harasser.
I understand it completely. He's an old coot, and may not have all his marbles.
[Edit - very sorry, I DO agree, @truenorthpilgrim . This Norbert guy is definitlely way past creepy, into inappropriate and scary territory. I was confusing the OP with the one about the elderly guy in the chapel along the Norte - wrong thread. But my point below holds, so I'm leaving the rest of post up.]

I've hesitated to chime in but @Evvie 's post has pushed me over the edge.

I'm a woman who often walks the camino alone.
This sort of thing happens, alas. Report it, please. There was for years an elderly man in Castrojerez who liked to smooch the young ladies. He was harmless but it was definitely really really yukky (that happened to me, too). Fortunately he was eventually stopped. Because of reporting.

Feel free to use your knife on cheese or bread, @Evvie, but don't bring it to the camino to use on people - and please leave your attacking attitude at home too. Once you get to Spain and are walking, you'll find it's an extra that you really don't need.
(And legality aside, even if a knife's use were warranted (which is absurdly unlikely), do you honestly think you'd be able to get that knife out, open it, and use it in time?)
 
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MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
The OP cannot report this man because she has not met him, the info presented is hearsay.

If and when anything comes from reporting this man to the police, he will certainly not be deported, Spain has the rule of law and touching a woman's ear is no ground for deportation.

Never allow a creep to follow you or get near to you while hoping he will go away. He won't. Swing your poles, blow your whistle, seek help from other pilgrims, call AlertCops, confront him, take the bus or a taxi.

Your goal should be an undisturbed camino. You won't reform or educate this type of predator.
 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
Um, consider mace instead? If you use that knife in Spain to injure (even in defense) laws and regulations may not be in your favor in the same way as in the states.
I really appreciate everyone's comments on this and I understand your concerns. This is a very individual decision and mine is not right for everyone. I will, however, protect my own life over that of someone who is attacking me with intent to harm and I'll take my chances with Spanish law and the courts. I don't have an "attacking attitude". I'm a peaceful person who in the gun-toting US doesn't own one nor can I fathom seriously harming someone. That said, I've read enough Camino stories about women being attacked, raped, and even killed to be concerned. I know that these occurrences are extremely rare. I'm 63 and I'm not strong enough physically to defend myself against an attacker. I pray that my Camino is a safe one, as I do for every pilgrim.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Anyone who carries a knife as a weapon of self-defence without the ability and intention to use it with immediate and lethal intent is merely carrying a few ounces of metal and fear along with their other burdens.

Anyone who carries a knife as a weapon of self-defence with the ability and intention to use it with immediate and lethal intent should look very deeply into their heart before undertaking Camino.

Write a list of all the worst things that could possibly happen to you.
Add "Killing another person" to that list.
Now prioritise your list.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Write a list of all the worst things that could possibly happen to you.
Add "Killing another person" to that list.
Now prioritise your list.
That stopped me in my tracks for a moment.
Perfectly said.

Alas, @Tincatinker, fear of dramatic things that are not actually happening is epidemic right now.
Mark Twain nailed it when he wrote, "I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." ;)
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I've read enough Camino stories about women being attacked, raped, and even killed
I have read about 1 murder, I don't recall any rapes, but I've read about a number of lesser assaults. I don't carry a knife for protection in my own country and see no need to do so in Spain. Nor do I think a pocket knife would be more effective than a whistle and a phone.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
That said, I've read enough Camino stories about women being attacked, raped, and even killed to be concerned. I know that these occurrences are extremely rare. I'm 63 and I'm not strong enough physically to defend myself against an attacker. I pray that my Camino is a safe one, as I do for every pilgrim.
Time to step back and think logically, we can’t let fear get hold of these threads. As the linked article below describes, there have been 45 crimes on the camino in the province of León in the last three years. 45 crimes in the last three years on a stretch of more than 200 kms. And the overwhelming majority are theft. With how many hundreds of thousands of people walking through?


Though no place in the world is crime-free, to think that you need to arm yourself to walk the Camino is a total distortion of reality and maybe a violation of Spanish law.
 

Evvie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
I have read about 1 murder, I don't recall any rapes, but I've read about a number of lesser assaults. I don't carry a knife for protection in my own country and see no need to do so in Spain. Nor do I think a pocket knife would be more effective than a whistle and a phone.
I've deleted my comment. No more debate is necessary.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
I think, with all my respect about women rigts to be safe, we are making the things crazy. The OP was speaking about a man who is TRYING TO KISS OR TOUCH THE EAR of some women. She is saying that this man leaves when the woman say LEAVE ME. Don´t blame me, I know what are you speaking of, I myself was harassed when younger by a older man. Being young, hetero, and quite naive, it was really shocking to me. But that was the clumpsy attempt of flirtting of a gay man, nor more. When I refuse his kisses and touchings, he stop trying, left and never saw him again.
Of course I felt disgusted and scared, but NEVER thought about stab him.
Never blamed all homosexual men for the beavior of one of them.
And never let fear dominate my life.
Now we are talking about rapes, killed, attacked women, like this were common events in the Camino, when not.
Maybe we would know the Camino is one of the safest places in Spain, being Spain one of the safests countries in the whole word, specially more for women, I honestly think we are exaggerating our concerns.
More or less 300.000 persons have been walking the camino yearly for many years. Lets say calculating dow 1.000.000 persons during the last five years.
How many rapes, attacks, or murders are committed in a city of that population in your country?
How many in a city that population in Spain?
How many in the Caminos?
Maybe, thinking about this can calm our fears.
That said of course if any of us, women or men, feel in any kind of danger, ask for help to a mate pilgrim, call for the police, report the incident...
But no take weapons with you. Guns, knives are no allowed in Spain. Respect Spanish laws.
Please not contaminate a space of kindness, peace, joy , friendship, etc with our fears.
If we do not feel confortable and safe in some place, maybe this place is not for us.
Best wishes for all women...and men in a safe Camino.
Ildefonso.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I'm a peaceful person who in the gun-toting US doesn't own one nor can I fathom seriously harming someone.
Then you are coming to the right place!
Along the camino you will find a wonderful community of fellow pilgrims, with so much more goodness than anything else. The best protection is to walk within sight of another pilgrim, and ask for help if you feel uncomfortable. We've all done it on occasion, and it works better than anything else.
Buen caminio @Evvie!

there have been 45 crimes on the camino in the province of León in the last three years. 45 crimes in the last three years on a stretch of more than 200 kms. And the overwhelming majority are theft. With how many hundreds of thousands of people walking through?
Thank you for the real numbers, @peregrina2000 . I thought it was more than that, but that's obviously the wrong perception!

Just a word about the danger of fear. It clouds judgement, and as a result we think what we are afraid of is much more dangerous than it actually is. Not to deny that bad things happen. They do. But we tend to be more afraid than we need to be about dramatic or sensational things, while not considering the real dangers that are much more prosaic.

We're much more at risk on the camino of badly infected blisters, injury from a fall, succumbing to illness, getting hit by a car, or heat exhaustion than any kind of molestation. But we're not scared of any of those things.

And if we act from a place of fear, bringing a knife (or any weapon) with the intention of self-defense, we can actually create a dangerous situation that would not have occurred otherwise. I was talking to someone from the UK about this and he told me, "I live in a country where more and more young men are carrying knives out of fear. And more and more young men are ending up dead as a result."

Anyone who brings a weapon (knife, gun, or mace) on the camino not only acts in direct opposition to the spirit of the way but also potentially endangers themselves and everyone around them, for no good reason.
 
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MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
I really appreciate everyone's comments on this and I understand your concerns. This is a very individual decision and mine is not right for everyone. I will, however, protect my own life over that of someone who is attacking me with intent to harm and I'll take my chances with Spanish law and the courts. I don't have an "attacking attitude". I'm a peaceful person who in the gun-toting US doesn't own one nor can I fathom seriously harming someone. That said, I've read enough Camino stories about women being attacked, raped, and even killed to be concerned. I know that these occurrences are extremely rare. I'm 63 and I'm not strong enough physically to defend myself against an attacker. I pray that my Camino is a safe one, as I do for every pilgrim.
Hi Evvie, I sympathize with your concerns, I know similar ones all too well.
Best way to improve your safety is to stay in sight or in reasonable whistle distance of others. That is a simple precaution and it will help you a lot. With your life experience, you know what irresponsible things you should not be doing, we sometimes have to explain these to younger persons, things like drinking too much and getting into cars of strangers for instance. But dang! if you don't know that by now, you probably never will.

I see you are leaving in September, is that right? you will have no problem finding fellow pilgrims. Have a wonderful Camino!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Thank you for the warning!
I guess I am one of those who never would have called the police for things like that, due to that the police in my home country, Norway, would never have enough resources to follow it up if it happened in Norway.
May be Spanish police have more resources to do that kind of work?
I am sorry to say that through my years of studying for my education in Oslo I nearly every day met a flasher or two walking through the royal garden/ park on the way to my university, but I never thought of reporting it.
Young women in those days were taught self-defense and relied on that in such coinsidencies.
For us non-Spanish speeking people the level for reporting to the police is even higher. I have been through a session of reporting being robbed at the airport train in Barcelona some years ago, on the way home from my second camino, and it was not easy since the police at Barcelona Sants spoke no English at all.
So please do not judge the ones who does not report, it is not easy in a foreign country.
The statistically most dangerous situation, at least in Norway, is still to be married!
Just so you know if you download the app called Alertcops and you activate it in an emergency it will find your location and as importantly connect you to someone who speaks English to help you. I think that this app especially for women is as essential as good shoes on the Camino.
 
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