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Warning to Women Walking Solo

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Love4Adventure

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (June-July 2018)
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
 

Love4Adventure

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (June-July 2018)
It seems to be safer north of Porto, when there are more people along the route. But between Lisboa and Porto, I think it’s very risky for a woman to be solo. I would advise going with a friend or finding a group you can join if you want to start before Porto.
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Or could it be that we are getting better at warning about it and reporting it? This happened to me on my very first camino in 2009 but I never told anyone. I was with a friend and we laughed it off - there were so many other and better experiences to focus on. I have since had it happen again when I was on my own and it felt more worrying. I have walked a good few short and long caminos and have had men expose themselves and perform sexual acts on themselves three times in total, which is obviously three times too many, I just wonder if the activity is constant and the reporting has improved? Or maybe that is wishful thinking?
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Or could it be that we are getting better at warning about it and reporting it? This happened to me on my very first camino in 2009 but I never told anyone. I was with a friend and we laughed it off - there were so many other and better experiences to focus on. I have since had it happen again when I was on my own and it felt more worrying. I have walked a good few short and long caminos and have had men expose themselves and perform sexual acts on themselves three times in total, which is obviously three times too many, I just wonder if the activity is constant and the reporting has improved? Or maybe that is wishful thinking?
No doubt the reporting has improved. Also, at the same time, the Caminos are attracting more people, including those with creepy intentions. No pervert will wait in an area where no solo women pass, or if it takes too long.

There are more threads about similar incidents on the CP. Stay safe, and as the OP says: I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I wonder if the local police are taking this with sufficient seriousness. Perhaps we are at a point where national associations should contact the Portuguese embassy in their countries to request attention at a ministerial level.... Remember that representations to the Galician and Spanish authorities resulted in increased policing on the Camino Francese.
 

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)
This is not the first such warning about the Portugues. Not having walked it, I'm not holding the places in memory, but there have been at least 2 incidents discussed here, maybe more. And one was pretty serious.

One would think authorities would be taking this kind of thing seriously.

Be safe out there everyone.
And look out for each other.
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.)
I walked between Santarem and Porto last Oct, started alone first and felt safe walking alone there, then met some people on the way and eventually we formed a Camino family consisting of 4 people, including a local Portugues guy. He explained a lot about Portugal on the way and he said that Agueda and the area around it used to be famous for all kinds of shady and dark activities in the past, mainly connected with drugs. Now they've cleaned up the town but I guess the residue may still be there, you can't get rid of all the perverts at once. Regarding the police saying that it's dangerous for women to walk solo - that's also a typical Portugues thing, not necessarily connected to gender. In thier culture It's considered that if you are walking alone it means you have no friends who can walk with you so they take pity on you. As a nation they do everything in groups, and still plenty of Portugues think that doing smth alone is impossible, dangerous or lonely.
 
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TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
I am in Portugal right now to visit friends. When I told them my plans to solo they all (woman) said no, I should not. Then they said their country was of course “very safe” and by end of talk they were supportive and thought me brave and strong. It is just not a normal kind of thing to do - to be a woman and do something alone. They asked me who I would talk to, that was their fear - not violence!!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I think most women who have walked a lot of caminos have stories like these. I have been flashed at least four or five times on the Camino Francés, almost always when walking with another woman, once alone. Once I was groped by an old guy on a bicycle. Reporting is the one concrete thing that everyone should take the time to do. And for those who think it is not worth the effort to report, read this thread: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/metoo-on-camino.55848/

Of course, everyone has to make their own decision about comfort level and walking alone. If you cannot shake your fear, you of course should not walk alone. But I for one have kept on walking alone and cannot imagine having to give that up. It’s all about risks and I have been able to take comfort in knowing that I am far safer on the Camino than I am every day in my home town where crime, guns, and violence are a daily occurrence.

Here is a note from the moderators, which we try to post in response to all of these reported incidents:

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 REMOVEyourself 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.
 

arajput

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese (August 2nd 2018)
I am in Portugal right now to visit friends. When I told them my plans to solo they all (woman) said no, I should not. Then they said their country was of course “very safe” and by end of talk they were supportive and thought me brave and strong. It is just not a normal kind of thing to do - to be a woman and do something alone. They asked me who I would talk to, that was their fear - not violence!!
When do you start your walk?
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
That is scary as I want to do Camino Portugues coastal
I hope to walk it next April.
It's becoming a sad world - mind you even worse things happened to pilgrims in medieval times.
But I hope maybe you can find a partner, Ali. One often meets other pilgrims walking the same way - and they often like a bit of company, too. Not "permanently" but for a few kilometers or hours at a time.
Bless you...and be happy.
S x
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Took some searching, but here is the thread I was looking for

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/perverts-on-portuguese-camino.55688/

Perverts on the CP - yes, plural. Read it all (you may skip the part about installing alert cops, this is a Spanish app) the numbers are shocking, and one of the explanations given is this:


@LGLG
I loved Portugal, the solitude, the beautiful scenery and the kind people I occasionally met on the road. Yet, I also found some sections quite creepy - can't remember quite where though. The scariest moment was, when I was sheltering under a tree from the rain, and a van stopped near me and the driver yelled at me to get in. I realised soon after that I had been mistaken for a prostitute, like those immigrant women who were sitting at various intervals along the road. I also had to step around used condoms and soiled underwear on deserted forest paths. Very sad, and I prayed not only for my own safety, but also the poor immigrant prostitutes I passed on the road.
@DeansFamily
Driving down the Portuguese Coast we are seeing lots of women (some quite old) sitting on chairs at the start of forest roads waiting (we now know for clients) and this must be why there is a problem with this unsavoury behaviour of harassing lone female pilgrims. Be careful out there if you are a lone female and be pro active in protecting yourselves as you walk through these regions.
I suspect that this is not a case of several individual women who chose to do this of their own free will. In case of immigrants, possibly illegal immigrants but not only immigrants, a criminal network is probably behind this.


The US department of State reports the following about Portugal (more at link, and yes, the Portuguese government is working on it)
https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271266.htm

Foreign women and children, mostly from Africa and Eastern Europe, and Portuguese women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Portuguese victims have also been subjected to sex trafficking in other countries, mostly in Europe. Children from Eastern Europe, including those of Roma descent, are subjected to forced begging and forced criminal activity in Portugal. Organized criminal networks operate trafficking rings in the country; some recruit victims abroad to exploit in Portugal, while others recruit domestically to exploit both within Portugal and abroad. Authorities report traffickers bring women and children, many from West Africa, to Portugal to claim asylum and obtain false documents before bringing them to other European countries to be exploited in sex trafficking.
Human trafficking is a criminal multi billion business. If the Portuguese Police advises not to walk alone because this is dangerous, it would be naive to put this down to folklore.
 

Levi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
Madrid September 2018
My heartfelt sympathy to those of us peregrinas who experience these disturbing and frightening incidents.
And life isn't always safe: we all know that.
For me, I need to keep walking - and my joy and preference is often to walk alone. I won't give that up. Be careful. Be strong. Keep walking.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago 2015 Camino Portugues 2017
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
I am sorry to hear of your unpleasant experience. Last September I was walking from Aqueda to Albergaria A-Velha. After Serem de Cina there is a 3.1km stretch or eucalyptis forest (signposted). A small white vehicle was sitting close to the entrance. I certainly felt uneasy as there was nobody around. I walked 200m into the forest when I heard the vehicle driving into the beginning of the track. Turned around and went back out to the road, the driver left quickly. I waited by the road for half an hour. No pilgrims came along. Thought I was safe after such a long wait and walked back into the forest. About 1km in the white van came back. He drove at my walking pace, looking at me. for a short while. Never said a word. I turned and ran out of the forest. It seemed a long way. He continued on and around the corner, out of sight. Eventually, back at the road, another couple came along and I walked with them. The white van & driver were sitting at about the 2km into the forest and drove off in the other direction when he saw the three of us. I spoke to the
 

SMBHNL

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: 2016, 2017. CP: April 2018
Last May, I was walking with a woman who, shortly after leaving Tomar, was followed by a guy wearing a ski mask. He stayed behind her and hid every time she turned around. At some point he ran right up behind her and started masturbating. So weird. There aren't enough walkers between Lisbon and Porto for it to be safe for single women. Always walk with others.
 

doctorherman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances*3, Ingles, Primitivo, Finisterre, Baztan, and Portuguese
Having very recently walked from Lisbon to Porto, I definitely would not recommend single females to walk it. I noticed a few strange things but being male, nothing else.

Just before Olveira de Azemeis there is an isolated low section that goes over a bridge in the middle. There was a very suspicious character lurking on the bridge, with nobody else foir miles and no reason to be there.

There were areas with prostitutes by the road and in the section of woods before the very beginning of the entrance through the outskirts of Porto.

I was walking about 50 m behind my wife in the industrial bit just after Agueda when a man got out of a car, moved towards her then noticed me and turned around and walked off.

So, nothing specific, but it didn't feel totally safe and that's before I could mention the long dangerous sections on roads with no path and cars hurtling towards you.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Is it safe for a solo man?
I would say, yes. I would say that of any of the routes. That is if what you mean by safe, is safe from being the victim of a sexual assault or physical attack of some sort. Also I am assuming the solo man in question is fit and capable of taking care of themselves.
I do not think I have heard of any attacks/assaults on male pilgrims. Again, in the sense that this thread is discussing.
Criminals, especially sexual predators, size up their victims and the situation, location etc before they act. They do not want to risk the chance of being caught or being physically injured. They are cowards. Someone fighting back is not part of their plan.
 

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés; Português Central; Português Interior; Primitivo; Português da Costa; Invierno
Is it safe for a solo man?

It's very hard to say. This is something concerning which I have a certain amount of knowledge in my professional capacity -- and a certain amount of experiential knowledge from a younger stage of my life.

In general, men experience street crime, including physical assaults and robberies, at much higher rates than women. They also perpetrate such crimes at much higher rates.

Our knowledge of their experience of sexual assaults is developing rapidly, largely due to a very recent shift toward reporting those offences. Briefly, what we can say at present is that (i) the majority of sexual offences everywhere involve a male perpetrator and a female victim; (ii) very significant minorities of reported rape victims (c. 11.5% in England and Wales; about the same in Ireland; around 15% in the U.S.; around 18% in Canada) are adult men; (iii) the reporting rate on the part of men of non-penetrative sexual assaults is much lower than the comparable rate for women; and (iv) as for women and girls, prevalence rates of victimisation are closely correlated to age. Members of both sexes are at their highest risk around their sixteenth birthday; are somewhat less in danger when they reach their twenties; and far less so after they turn thirty. From then on, the risk drops precipitously, although for both sexes it never reaches zero.

Exhibitionism ("flashing") and frotteurism ("groping") are the outstanding exceptions to that general rule. In contrast to every other type of sexual offence, older women are more at risk. Nearly all victims of exhibitionism are female; we just don't know enough about male experiences of frotteurism to be able to say to what extent they're represented in the victim population. My unscientific impression is that the pattern there will track that of penetrative rape pretty closely: predominantly male-perpetrator, female-victim, but with enough divergences from the general rule that everybody needs to be aware of this stuff.

Exhibitionism, along with similar paraphilias like stealing underwear, is not something to take lightly. Even today these crimes are too often regarded as trivial. But about a third those arrested for exhibitionism will go on to commit more serious sexual offences. The outlook is especially poor for those who begin offending at an early age. For that reason, I believe it's important to report all of these cases to the authorities.

I would be surprised if there were more exhibitionists than previously. Across the Western world, recorded rates of sexual offending have fallen by around 50% since the early 1980s, even as the number and scope of such offences (e.g., marital rape, so-called date rape, and male rape) has expanded. I doubt that exhibitionism is an exception to the rule. When it occurs -- and it still occurs much too often -- it's being reported and recorded more frequently. It very rarely was forty years ago.

My apologies for writing at such length about a distasteful and distressing topic. My thinking is that even partial and evolving knowledge is preferable to none at all.
 
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Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
Heard of 2 experiences like this on last year's CdP. It seems to happen only in Portugal. I agree that for this route, women should not walk alone.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Heard of 2 experiences like this on last year's CdP. It seems to happen only in Portugal. I agree that for this route, women should not walk alone.
Sorry, I have to jump in to say it absolutely doesn’t “happen only in Portugal.” I have been flashed about five times and groped once, all in Spain, all on the Camino Francés. I have also walked from Lisbon alone and had nothing happen. I am not saying that nothing ever happens in Portugal, but I think it is wrong to characterize the risks in Portugal as somehow greater than the risks in Spain. Women walking alone on any Camino should be alert and aware that there are perverts everywhere in the world, but I don’t think the border between Spain and Portugal marks a delineation between perverts and no perverts.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Sorry, I have to jump in to say it absolutely doesn’t “happen only in Portugal.” I have been flashed about five times and groped once, all in Spain, all on the Camino Francés. I have also walked from Lisbon alone and had nothing happen. I am not saying that nothing ever happens in Portugal, but I think it is wrong to characterize the risks in Portugal as somehow greater than the risks in Spain. Women walking alone on any Camino should be alert and aware that there are perverts everywhere in the world, but I don’t think the border between Spain and Portugal marks a delineation between perverts and no perverts.

The OP was told by the police that it was not safe for women to walk alone. Now I wonder why women should report every incident on a Camino to the police but apparently ignore the advice that the same police gives them.
 

Georgina77

Vancouver Island in December
Camino(s) past & future
Future July 2015 hopefully......... did it awesome :)
Sorry to hear all this is happening On the Camino I am not surprised but wanted it not to be true Guess Women should do what they use to do... carry the killer hat pin the longer and pointer the better , Mom told me that years ago (just don't fall on it your self ) I used to line the whole under neath side of my collar with them plus I carried a skinny long very sharp and pointy pair of scissors in one pocket and a straight razor in my other pocket ... Sometimes just knowing you got something to fight back with is enough to scare them off
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
...even as the number and scope of such offences (e.g., marital rape, so-called date rape, and male rape) has expanded.
All in all, a highly informative and on point post. The only concern I have is with the way you preference "date rape" with "so called" as I exerpt in the quote above. It could give the impression that rapes on dates aren't really rapes, they are just "so called". You don't say "so called marital rape". Just as being married to someone doesn't necessarily mean consent to all sexual activity, the same is true for being on a date with someone. If consent is not there on a date, it is just as much rape as when consent is not there in a marriage.

I'm sorry if it seems like a quibble or if I've misinterpreted your intent, but it didn't seem like something I should let pass without comment.
 
D

Deleted member 12253

Guest
Heard of 2 experiences like this on last year's CdP. It seems to happen only in Portugal. I agree that for this route, women should not walk alone.

It happens on all caminos and all over the world. Naturists use mountain paths and no clothes does not mean perverts just walk section into bilbao on norte to mention just one
 

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés; Português Central; Português Interior; Primitivo; Português da Costa; Invierno
Having been the one responsible, I think, for much of the thread drift, I'll make this my last word on the subject. Just a word of reply to David Tallan's observation.

Actually, DT, it's the other way round. The expression "date rape" was coined in the early 1980s, but was considered objectionable at that time by a lot of people because they believed it conveyed the implication that this kind of offending did not constitute "real" rape. For that reason, it began to be put in quotation marks. However, it wasn't easy to come up with a more acceptable substitute. "Acquaintance rape" was sometimes employed as a synonym, but was not entirely satisfactory either, inasmuch as there are other kinds of acquaintanceships than romantic relationships.

The term is still used today, faute de mieux, but there are those who continue to see it as problematical by tending to connote a less grave form of offending. Hence my use of the words "so-called."
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
@Aurigny, in response to a query about the safety of men on the Camino you wrote:
It's very hard to say. This is something concerning which I have a certain amount of knowledge in my professional capacity -- and a certain amount of experiential knowledge from a younger stage of my life.
In your professional opinion or the collective opinion of your peers what reaction for women to exhibitionism is most appropriate? The point and laugh reaction often mentioned seems to me not only to be unsafe but even if it does work may lead to humiliation that could cause a violent attack in a future incident.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Another example of a peregrina taking the time to denounce and getting some action:

http://www.atlantico.net/articulo/area-metropolitana/exhibe-genitales-peregrina-viso/20180731004943660968.html

The woman reported a flasher near Redondela (on the camino portugués but in Spain), and the Guardia Civil found him based on her description. The penalty is only a 100-600 € fine, but hopefully the fact of an arrest and some notoriety will have an impact both on this guy and others who might now think twice.
 

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)
Good news, thank you, L.
That could actually be quite a deterrent: that's no small amount of money, especially if you don't have it.
One question that came up reading that article in Google translate: it sounds like the fine was not for the flashing but for previous offenses. Is that what you read in the original or is this a translation thing?
The man now denounced has other records for crimes of sexual abuse and had already been denounced for an administrative infraction of the Law on the projection of citizen security, for which the defendant faces an economic sanction that may vary between 100 and 600 euros fine for these events.
But, even if that's the case, hopefully there's a growing awareness of the situation. Someone should alert pertinent government officials that their area's getting a bad reputation. Then there might be more action.
 

Aurigny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés; Português Central; Português Interior; Primitivo; Português da Costa; Invierno
The point and laugh reaction often mentioned seems to me not only to be unsafe but even if it does work may lead to humiliation that could cause a violent attack in a future incident.
I think you're entirely correct, R of R&P. The notion, expressed by a poster above, that sex offenders are invariably or even typically "cowards" who carefully plan their actions and will back down from a confrontation is not well supported in the literature. To the contrary, they are by definition criminals who are undeterred by the prospect of a custodial sentence. They often act impulsively and unpredictably -- even when not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which further complicates any calculations one may try to make. It is never safe to treat them with anything but caution. Sometimes it's necessary to do whatever it takes to defend oneself, all other options being unavailable. If that's not the case, however, seeking immediate assistance from anyone in the vicinity and, as soon as possible after that, the police, is always the best course of action.
 

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
Hi MInaKamina, please take care with this line of thinking. It carries an implied assumption that women may be to blame for ignoring the warning, while the sole responsibility for those offences solely lies with the offenders. It is understandable that the police sends out such warnings, so women can be prepared or decide accordingly - but this needs to be balanced against the risk of women's rights to feeling safe from harassment wherever they should wish to go - hence the need to report and thereby make it a safer place for all.
 

LGLG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP - Finisterre (2005) ; LePuy - Muxia (2007) ; Porto - SC. (2009) planning Lourdes- SC (2018)
The OP was told by the police that it was not safe for women to walk alone. Now I wonder why women should report every incident on a Camino to the police but apparently ignore the advice that the same police gives them.
See my response above.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Good news, thank you, L.
That could actually be quite a deterrent: that's no small amount of money, especially if you don't have it.
One question that came up reading that article in Google translate: it sounds like the fine was not for the flashing but for previous offenses. Is that what you read in the original or is this a translation thing?

But, even if that's the case, hopefully there's a growing awareness of the situation. Someone should alert pertinent government officials that their area's getting a bad reputation. Then there might be more action.
Yes, that´s actually a pretty good translation, these computers are getting good. The original does seem to make the connection between previous incidents and the fine, sort of like it may have only been triggered because of those previous incidents. But I did a little googling (being careful to check my sources :)) and found several references to the administrative law provisions of 2016 that allow imposition of a fine of 100 to 600 euros for “obscene exhibition.” So it seems like it is a fine that can be imposed for one, stand-alone incident.

And in case anyone is wondering why the Guardia Civil is photographed in the article so that he looks like some of those men peeing along the camino that women have complained about, it is because under law the faces of the guardia are not allowed to be photographed. I learned that from one on the Mozarabe when he stopped for a long chat on a rural road through the mountains.
 

Peter1

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
I am really sorry to hear about this frightening incident. I have just returned from working in the Pilgrims Office in Santiago, and there was a very similar incident last week. I really believe that anyone whatever their gender should be able to walk on the camino without fear. However there are some sexually inadequate men out there that mean women are particular targets. It's wrong that this happens, however that sadly is the reality.

There are some basic precautions you can take. First, have a mobile phone with you and dial 112 if you are threatened. If you are in Spain, ask for 'ayuda en inglés' ('help in English') so that you get put through to someone who can speak English. Second, it makes sense if you can get to know people walking along the way, and at least have someone friendly in view so that you can call out for help if this sort of thing happens. However, the reality is that the Spanish police won't take action unless you are touched or children are involved, so you really need to be proactive in ensuring your own security.

Having met literally thousands of people who had complete their walk, including many women walking on their own, this sort of incident is frankly rare.
 

truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept-Nov 2016)
Camino Podiensis/Le Puy (Sept 2019)
Camino Frances (Oct 2019)
I wonder if the local police are taking this with sufficient seriousness. Perhaps we are at a point where national associations should contact the Portuguese embassy in their countries to request attention at a ministerial level.... Remember that representations to the Galician and Spanish authorities resulted in increased policing on the Camino Francese.
I agree with this suggestion, as I am sick and tired of the age old advice of women needing to change behavior because of men.
 

truthi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Way/Cycle/Sept 18-Oct 10, 2018
This is a lot to read and let in. I’m cycling Lisbon to SdeC solo in Sept/Oct. I’m female. I recently took a Women’s Self Defense class and it was incredibly helpful. While I know it won’t keep harm totally away from me, I also know that it taught me a lot and I feel better prepared.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
I am most happy that you had the courage to report this. After ruminating over it, taking in all the details provided, I am first glad that there was no physical violence. The initial response of the Police is a bit of a concern, however, as the trickle down effect reaches the vendors and the albergues in the area, I foresee a bit of an issue being raised that Female Pilgrims are not safe in their area and are not bringing their business as a result.

Wishing you a much more enjoyable rest of your Pilgrimage.
 

dkrez

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - Fall 2016
Frances - Spring 2017
Portuguese - Spring 2108
Hi,

I'm late to this thread which contains excellent and invaluable information and suggestions. I think what might also be helpful, beyond reporting to police (essential), is getting as much information about perpetrators appearance, MO, cars, etc. and then additionally posting to this site. There may be a pattern that emerges that would be helpful for police.

I had an incident (exhibitionist, masterbator) together with a follow walker just outside A Guarda on the Portuguese on May 21st/2018. The perpetrator was driving an old red Renault and had definitely scoped us out. My biggest regret was not taking a photo of his plate. My concern, annoyance, and fear at the time was that had we been alone (as we initially started) the situation might have turned out very differently. My other concern was for the walkers after us and the potential for escalation of his behaviours - about 30% of such perps.
 

Janspex

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese 2019
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
I was hoping to walk this Camino next year solo now I’m worried
 

Liz Drew

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Coastal Portuguese
2018 Via de la Plata
(2019) del Norte
It is not qute 2 years ago that I did this Camino solo from Lisboa without any incident. Perverts, exhibitonists, whatever they are called are everywhere! I could come across them in the town where you live or just around my corner. Be vigilant, smart but never feel frightened.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016

Pink Girl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino September-October 2017
Sorry to hear all this is happening On the Camino I am not surprised but wanted it not to be true Guess Women should do what they use to do... carry the killer hat pin the longer and pointer the better , Mom told me that years ago (just don't fall on it your self ) I used to line the whole under neath side of my collar with them plus I carried a skinny long very sharp and pointy pair of scissors in one pocket and a straight razor in my other pocket ... Sometimes just knowing you got something to fight back with is enough to scare them off
I agree. I just found that pepper spray under 5% is allowed in Spain and most airlines will let you bring it in your checked luggage. I carry pepper spray on my keys at home and will be bringing it to my next Camino. Stay safe ladies!
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
I wonder if the local police are taking this with sufficient seriousness. Perhaps we are at a point where national associations should contact the Portuguese embassy in their countries to request attention at a ministerial level.... Remember that representations to the Galician and Spanish authorities resulted in increased policing on the Camino Francese.
I like this idea. I'm saddened that police tell women to change their behaviour instead of addressing the problem. Thankyou for saying this.
 

AnnieG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
end May to June 2014
Hi, this is scary.. Is the Le Puy route Ok for solo women walkers? I start this month.
 

grifwe

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese coastal
The OP was told by the police that it was not safe for women to walk alone. Now I wonder why women should report every incident on a Camino to the police but apparently ignore the advice that the same police gives them.
Isn't it everyone's right and expectation to be able to walk safely and isn't it the police responsibility/job to try prevent crime.
 

Seamus68

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Apr 2017
Camino Del Norte April 2018
Camino Frances - St Jean to Burgos 2019
I started my Camino in Coimbra, and on the 2nd day had an incident where a man was parked along the side of the road, along the route, just waiting for a female pilgrim to walk by. He wanted me to masturbate him; thankfully he did not pursue or physically threaten me when I said no and walked away. This happened several km before Águeda, in an area where I could not have quickly found help if needed (I presume he picked the rather isolated area on purpose). When I went to the police to report the incident, they did not seem at all surprised and they conveyed that it was dangerous for women to walk solo. (They were very kind and sympathetic, but their response made me understand this type of incident is becoming increasingly common.) I no longer felt comfortable walking alone (until I was quite north of Porto) and joined a few people I had met the night before. They told me a girl they were previously walking with had a similar incident, but the man was much more aggressive and tried to physically force her into his truck. She was rescued by a fellow male pilgrim who happened to come across her.

After my experience, and learning of hers just a few days before, I would advise women NOT to walk the Camino Portuguese (south of Porto) solo. It just isn’t safe and it’s not worth the risk.

Be safe out there!
This happened to a New Zealand girl last year. She went into bar for water and also got a sello. She continued walked and car pulled up, and same thing happened.She managed to take picture of pervert.
She ran to next village and locals called police. She couldn’t remember previous
Village but had her Sello. Police went to the Bar where she stopped and they’re was this guy. They arrested him. Apparently she found out he was released, no doubt ready to do it again. This was on Camino Frances before Logrono
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Is it safe for a solo man?
My thought was - we need to encourage men and women to walk their walks - scary ruminations can turn women away from a life dream - do as they say here - walk your walk and deal with all issues intelligently as they arise !
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
My thought was - we need to encourage men and women to walk their walks - scary ruminations can turn women away from a life dream - do as they say here - walk your walk and deal with all issues intelligently as they arise !
And learn some Portuguese language - we need the ability to express ourselves also
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Yesterday whilst in Paris my wife was threatened with a knife near Montmarte.
She was shaken , thankfully when he raised his arm above her she gasped and stepped back which made me turn from reading the menu board on the footpath.
This was a very respectable area in a lovely residential square.
He was deranged and appeared from nowhere and this was midday---12.30 am.
We return home today ( 7/8) with the belief we have had for the last 10 years ,
" The Camino paths , whichever you choose , is safer than at home for all ....man , woman or beasts "

The words from Sparrow previously are spot on , just go for a walk and enjoy .
The Portuguese are the most respectful people .
 
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TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Yesterday whilst in Paris my wife was threatened with a knife near Montmarte.
She was shaken , thankfully when he raised his arm above her she gasped and stepped back which made me turn from reading the menu board on the footpath.
This was a very respectable area in a lovely residential square.
He was deranged and appeared from nowhere and this was midday---12.30 am.
We return home today ( 7/8) with the belief we have had for the last 10 years ,
" The Camino paths , whichever you choose , is safer than at home for all ....man , woman or beasts "

The words from Sparrow previously are spot on , just go for a walk and enjoy .
The Portuguese are the most respectful people .
I was just 5 weeks teaching in Paris and another faculty member had an unwell woman shove her student on the metro - pushing her hard in the chest area - and that was very scary for that student. So, I can relate to your wife and Montmartre and that is really scary - happy she is ok :))
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
The OP was told by the police that it was not safe for women to walk alone. Now I wonder why women should report every incident on a Camino to the police but apparently ignore the advice that the same police gives them.
This is a cultural response - Portuguese people are very straightforward and blunt and smart. When Police say do not walk to women they are basically saying “Look, if you walk alone you are going to see some things you do not want to see andmay not be equipped to handle - such as you have no language skills, etc” We need to deal with each challenge intelligently, learn some host county language, and report violence and people who make us feel unsafe.
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
When do you start your walk?
I start March 2019 - Lisbon up - I am reading a post about coastal route from
Lisbon - seems interesting. Do you know anything about that? Thanks!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Camino Portugues, June 2019
I was hoping to walk this Camino next year solo now I’m worried
Please don't be! Go walk! I love to walk alone and, if I walk with others sometimes, it will be because I want their company, not just for their protection. That is a sad way to live.

You can't escape risk anywhere you go, and you are not at increased risk, walking the Camino. Men exposing themselves is not a new, or increasing issue, in Spain or anywhere else. I witnessed this a number of times when I hitchhiked around Spain in the 1970s. I also was subjected to this many times here at home in the US, especially when I was younger. And four days ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), I rolled my eyes at somebody who cut me off in traffic and he aimed a gun out the window at my face. Will I stop driving around my home town? No.

Rapes and violent attacks are extremely rare on the Camino. Flashers are also very rare, but slightly more common. Unfortunately, most people do not consider epidemiological statistics about the likelihood of bad outcomes, but we tend to be more swayed by frightening anecdotes. And you will be bound to hear some pretty terrible anecdotes, wherever or whatever you do. We all determine our own personal risk/benefit ratio; weighing the potential risks against the probable benefits of actions we take.

I, personally, will never allow the potential risk of a man exposing himself to me to outweigh the many, many benefits I have experienced, walking alone on the Camino. I am sorry and angry that women have been victimized on the path. I will consider the ways I can make myself safer, while walking alone. But, as a rate per population, people in my home city are victims of crime at a much higher rate than pilgrims are, walking to Santiago.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
Please don't be! Go walk! I love to walk alone and, if I walk with others sometimes, it will be because I want their company, not just for their protection. That is a sad way to live.

You can't escape risk anywhere you go, and you are not at increased risk, walking the Camino. Men exposing themselves is not a new, or increasing issue, in Spain or anywhere else. I witnessed this a number of times when I hitchhiked around Spain in the 1970s. I also was subjected to this many times here at home in the US, especially when I was younger. And four days ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), I rolled my eyes at somebody who cut me off in traffic and he aimed a gun out the window at my face. Will I stop driving around my home town? No.

Rapes and violent attacks are extremely rare on the Camino. Flashers are also very rare, but slightly more common. Unfortunately, most people do not consider epidemiological statistics about the likelihood of bad outcomes, but we tend to be more swayed by frightening anecdotes. And you will be bound to hear some pretty terrible anecdotes, wherever or whatever you do. We all determine our own personal risk/benefit ratio; weighing the potential risks against the probable benefits of actions we take.

I, personally, will never allow the potential risk of a man exposing himself to me to outweigh the many, many benefits I have experienced, walking alone on the Camino. I am sorry and angry that women have been victimized on the path. I will consider the ways I can make myself safer, while walking alone. But, as a rate per population, people in my home city are victims of crime at a much higher rate than pilgrims are, walking to Santiago.
Good summary!
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Good summary!
Just as a side note - if women compiled how much worry we had we would be harmed by men - one half of our species - it would be unimaginable. We need more men to speak up for us here - to tell us to walk and make our lives compelling and adventurous ! Men do not fear men exposing themselves to them because men rarely expose to other men - for fears of being harmed!!
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
I walked between Santarem and Porto last Oct, started alone first and felt safe walking alone there, then met some people on the way and eventually we formed a Camino family consisting of 4 people, including a local Portugues guy. He explained a lot about Portugal on the way and he said that Agueda and the area around it used to be famous for all kinds of shady and dark activities in the past, mainly connected with drugs. Now they've cleaned up the town but I guess the residue may still be there, you can't get rid of all the perverts at once. Regarding the police saying that it's dangerous for women to walk solo - that's also a typical Portugues thing, not necessarily connected to gender. In thier culture It's considered that if you are walking alone it means you have no friends who can walk with you so they take pity on you. As a nation they do everything in groups, and still plenty of Portugues think that doing smth alone is impossible, dangerous or lonely.
It is worth mentioning that Portugal reversed its drug problem in a completely unique and creative and humane way - now world famous for its great success. Portugal has also trial run recently if they could run their entire country on only their renewable energy and they did ! So, Portugal is an aware and forward looking place - exhibitionists are everywhere and it is unfortunate of course to disturb the peace of someone performing a Camino- where are the Knights Templar? :)
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Took some searching, but here is the thread I was looking for

https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/perverts-on-portuguese-camino.55688/

Perverts on the CP - yes, plural. Read it all (you may skip the part about installing alert cops, this is a Spanish app) the numbers are shocking, and one of the explanations given is this:


@LGLG


@DeansFamily

I suspect that this is not a case of several individual women who chose to do this of their own free will. In case of immigrants, possibly illegal immigrants but not only immigrants, a criminal network is probably behind this.


The US department of State reports the following about Portugal (more at link, and yes, the Portuguese government is working on it)
https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2017/271266.htm



Human trafficking is a criminal multi billion business. If the Portuguese Police advises not to walk alone because this is dangerous, it would be naive to put this down to folklore.
I read the report - it seems to all suggest great care and work to prevent human trafficking - most of this is forced labor (restaurants farms) etc. it mentions some sex trafficking at the very end - but this report is highly informative about how deeply the Portuguese government is working all the time to combat these terrible crimes. Caminos in Portugal have very little to do with safety issues in this document. Unless you eat food at a restaurant that has forced labor - then oddly we are complacent! (Not really but you get my point). Thank you for posting this document!!
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
I start March 2019 - Lisbon up - I am reading a post about coastal route from Lisbon - seems interesting. Do you know anything about that? Thanks!
Hi Sparrow!
I plan to walk Porto to SdC along the coast next April/May as a "final" camino. You'll probably be long gone before I'm there - but just relax and enjoy. And enjoy the company of other pilgrims, who will become your "pilgrim family". Whatever you do, don't be put off by these rare occurences. Check out my web site for my previous caminos, and know that I have enjoyed EVERY ONE!
Blessings from grey England....
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Blessings from grey England....
Too hot there Stephen a month ago , it nearly killed us .
We had walked coastal and survived with the sea breezes , then ventured north ;)
You will love Portuguese , go very slow and venture west @ Caminha and then Spiritual .
Keep warm and i hope Cookie makes a ton.
 

Dorpie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Just as a side note - if women compiled how much worry we had we would be harmed by men - one half of our species - it would be unimaginable. We need more men to speak up for us here - to tell us to walk and make our lives compelling and adventurous ! Men do not fear men exposing themselves to them because men rarely expose to other men - for fears of being harmed!!
Hi @TheSparrow

I can only speak for myself but I have deliberately not involved myself in this thread precisely because I'm a man and as such not in a position to understand the nature or scale of the issue. On my two caminos (both Frances) female walking companions have experienced issues, first time a non-pilgrim got a bit too touchy when supposedly helping with pack adjustments and second time (again a non pilgrim) cat calling my friend. Neither of which were the end of the world but mean that I can't in good conscience say "Walk, be adventurous, you have nothing to worry about".

It is not my place to tell you or anyone else to walk, it strikes me that as independent adults it is up to the individual to weigh up the risks and rewards, and appealing for men to speak up and almost give permission is exactly the kind of patriarchal behaviour that I don't think serves either gender.

Having said that I will stand up and be counted when it matters, I was not happy with my friend in the first case when she refused to go to the police, but that was her decision.

I fear this reads as defensive and confrontational, it isn't meant to, just explaining why for me personally it doesn't feel appropriate to weigh in.

Wishing everyone a safe, compelling Camino,

Rob.
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Hi Rob,
You are being a good friend to write I think! You say here, the take home message is that you will stand up when it matters, so, that is a healthy message from you. Of course we help each other, I plan on being helpful when needed yes! Woman have been horn honked at, eyed, stared at, etc etc their whole life! yikes, but true, and of course everyone knows this. I find the men in Portugal to be so respectful, they do not even make eye contact if you walk down the street towards them, they do take a turn around peek on the rare occasion, however, so, nobody is perfect (avoiding recent meme mention). lol
So, woman do not want permission, we agree! Hooray! But, male voices at least help us to think we are being heard and it is not a "woman's issue" etc. Or, that men on the camino might even speak up more on the road, I am not sure, just saying this, but if we all change our attitude towards certain people that feel wrong, and if we learn some native language, we might shift the feeling by sex offenders that it is a good place to hang out and act out urges to scare women, I mean it is the most gross feeling in the world. As so many women here have said, our whole lives are filled with this low level aggression. And I will not get all hashtag here, but you know !
So, I want to hear from any other man who wants to weigh in, it is healthy. The Camino seems to be walked for all kinds of reasons, friends, pub crawl, silent prayer, exercise etc. What a wonderful community and talking about a tough topic is only going to be helpful.
Soooooo, another long post by me, but again, heartfelt thanks for stepping up!
TheSparrow
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Hi Sparrow!
I plan to walk Porto to SdC along the coast next April/May as a "final" camino. You'll probably be long gone before I'm there - but just relax and enjoy. And enjoy the company of other pilgrims, who will become your "pilgrim family". Whatever you do, don't be put off by these rare occurences. Check out my web site for my previous caminos, and know that I have enjoyed EVERY ONE!
Blessings from grey England....
Hi Stephan,
Yes, I will check out your website, joy!! I will be on the boardwalk ahead of you, but, I hope I can learn from your posts some good sound Camino knowledge, Merci, Obrigada, Thank you, etc :)
 
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TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
Please don't be! Go walk! I love to walk alone and, if I walk with others sometimes, it will be because I want their company, not just for their protection. That is a sad way to live.

You can't escape risk anywhere you go, and you are not at increased risk, walking the Camino. Men exposing themselves is not a new, or increasing issue, in Spain or anywhere else. I witnessed this a number of times when I hitchhiked around Spain in the 1970s. I also was subjected to this many times here at home in the US, especially when I was younger. And four days ago, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA), I rolled my eyes at somebody who cut me off in traffic and he aimed a gun out the window at my face. Will I stop driving around my home town? No.

Rapes and violent attacks are extremely rare on the Camino. Flashers are also very rare, but slightly more common. Unfortunately, most people do not consider epidemiological statistics about the likelihood of bad outcomes, but we tend to be more swayed by frightening anecdotes. And you will be bound to hear some pretty terrible anecdotes, wherever or whatever you do. We all determine our own personal risk/benefit ratio; weighing the potential risks against the probable benefits of actions we take.

I, personally, will never allow the potential risk of a man exposing himself to me to outweigh the many, many benefits I have experienced, walking alone on the Camino. I am sorry and angry that women have been victimized on the path. I will consider the ways I can make myself safer, while walking alone. But, as a rate per population, people in my home city are victims of crime at a much higher rate than pilgrims are, walking to Santiago.
Hi,
Thank you for this post. I agree, we have to think of safety, and walk and enjoy the time we have been able to set aside for such an event. The towns and villages will have wonderful people and certainly must counteract the sex offenders who catch us off guard trying to scare us - if in fact you have that happen. (I hope not)!! They are not scaring us off the Camino, they are just scaring us, that is the motive. Actually, the motive might to be reassure themselves in some deeply psychological ways they are really men - but I will spare you the psychoanalytic approach lol. I hope you feel happy and free spirited and I hope I do too on my Camino.
TheSparrow
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Just as a side note - if women compiled how much worry we had we would be harmed by men - one half of our species - it would be unimaginable. We need more men to speak up for us here - to tell us to walk and make our lives compelling and adventurous ! Men do not fear men exposing themselves to them because men rarely expose to other men - for fears of being harmed!!
I'm happy to speak up and say "Walk! Be adventurous." to women here in the forums and wherever I might be. I am less comfortable doing so on a thread related to women's safety. It seems presumptuous to me. I'm privileged enough not to have the worries that you lead your comment with. To blithely suggest that you ignore those worries to walk seems to be too dismissive of your real experiences. So, while I would certainly encourage women to walk, and my personal belief is that walking on the Camino is no more dangerous (and probably substantially less) than walking anywhere else with a similar population, I tend to reserve my encouragement for other threads.

As a side note, I'm not so sure it is fear of being harmed that prevents men from exposing themselves to other men. I think it is more likely that the motivating factors are just not there to do so. But your point that men don't fear assault the same way that women do certainly stands.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
You have been a woman your whole life. For your entire life you have learned to manage seemingly unmanageable males.

Take same knowledge and ENJOY camino.

As an African-American woman walking solo I met with: a flasher here and there, a racist remark here and there, a man or two who thought I was for hire, and on and on.

I had the time of my life because I went. As everyone on this forum who has walked at least one day on the Way.

I faced fear of being alone, fear of unknown pilgrimage: FEAR!!!!

And, everyone on this forum, male or female, who has walked at least a day on the Way has done same: overcome their, FEARS!

Go: face your fears without anyone's advocacy!
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
You have been a woman your whole life. For your entire life you have learned to manage seemingly unmanageable males.

Take same knowledge and ENJOY camino.

As an African-American woman walking solo I met with: a flasher here and there, a racist remark here and there, a man or two who thought I was for hire, and on and on.

I had the time of my life because I went. As everyone on this forum who has walked at least one day on the Way.

I faced fear of being alone, fear of unknown pilgrimage: FEAR!!!!

And, everyone on this forum, male or female, who has walked at least a day on the Way has done same: overcome their, FEARS!

Go: face your fears without anyone's advocacy!
"for hire" that is just so rude ! overcoming fears is such a good mantra! Merci
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
I'm happy to speak up and say "Walk! Be adventurous." to women here in the forums and wherever I might be. I am less comfortable doing so on a thread related to women's safety. It seems presumptuous to me. I'm privileged enough not to have the worries that you lead your comment with. To blithely suggest that you ignore those worries to walk seems to be too dismissive of your real experiences. So, while I would certainly encourage women to walk, and my personal belief is that walking on the Camino is no more dangerous (and probably substantially less) than walking anywhere else with a similar population, I tend to reserve my encouragement for other threads.

As a side note, I'm not so sure it is fear of being harmed that prevents men from exposing themselves to other men. I think it is more likely that the motivating factors are just not there to do so. But your point that men don't fear assault the same way that women do certainly stands.
Thank you David,
It does feel better to hear male voices here! But, I know from college teaching, that men who are asked what they would do if flashed say "I would harm them for sure." But yes, this kind of sex offender is thriving on scaring women, not men - you are correct. But it is interesting that it might be uncommon to have a man flash a woman if she walks with a man - not that I am going to seek out walking with a man for that edge of safety (though I would welcome company for sure). I think it is helpful to hear that you care and that you are willing to say it is not a worry for you, but that you are aware that it is a part of womanhood (for now at least). Obrigada :) TheSparrow (PS, I have been flashed in a library full of people by a guy who covered his exposed genital with an open academic book) soooooo, yes, we can deal, but it more or less just does not seem to go away - maybe these sex offenders will eventually evolve out of the behavior? One can hope.
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
Too hot there Stephen a month ago , it nearly killed us .
We had walked coastal and survived with the sea breezes , then ventured north ;)
You will love Portuguese , go very slow.
Yes - it was too hot in the UK too!! But I love Portugal - and Portuguese people. They're the only European nation with whom the British have never been at war!!!
Am looking forward to it. My first ever camino was from Porto to SdC in 2011. It's all documented on my web site. I shall try to manage on just 15 kms per day.
Adios, amigo Thornley!
 

BucketBabe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances planned for October 3-mid November (2018)
I understand pepper spray is available in Spain. Does anyone actually carry it on the Camino? Is it available at the sporting goods shops? I carry it while at home on my keychain. Thoughts?
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Yes - it was too hot in the UK too!! But I love Portugal - and Portuguese people. They're the only European nation with whom the British have never been at war!!!
Am looking forward to it. My first ever camino was from Porto to SdC in 2011. It's all documented on my web site. I shall try to manage on just 15 kms per day.
Adios, amigo Thornley!
Portugal has only been at war with Spain (in Europe)
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
As an aging privileged white male, I am not sure I can add/participate in this discussion. The whole thread saddens and disturbs me.
But I will be more proactive in offering up walking companionship for females walking alone.
I walked at least some of the Lisbon-Porto route last September and much was industrial and isolated which I can see in hindsight makes for good hunting grounds for predators. Not at all like the Frances.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
I think many men go through a range of emotions reading threads like this. I certainly do.
The temptation is to merely watch the threads unfold and say nothing.
What can we say? How will it be perceived? Will it be taken the wrong way? Will it seem X Y or Z?

I cannot begin to imagine what it's like to be a woman who has to walk through life being careful and wary of the opposite gender. No one should have to experience that.
And I feel shame for the actions of others of my gender.
It just saddens me deeply.

I try to make a point when walking to check that lone female pilgrims are OK.
Maybe by just making sure I stay within sight on a lonely stretch. Or just saying Hi at a coffee stop.
All of which in itself can be tricky to do without seeming like a predator...... catch 22.
But most women have fairly good radars to tell them which guys are the 'creeps'.

I think all we can do as males is to be aware. To discretely 'be there' for our fellow Pilgrims.
And obviously be prepared to 'step up' if required.
 

Wandalina

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese in September '18
Primitivo in September '19
It's really encouraging to read your message. Thank you for taking the time to write and your kindness does make a difference. I'm walking my first Camino next week alone and it makes me feel better to think there will be people like yourself watching out for me.
I think many men go through a range of emotions reading threads like this. I certainly do.
The temptation is to merely watch the threads unfold and say nothing.
What can we say? How will it be perceived? Will it be taken the wrong way? Will it seem X Y or Z?

I cannot begin to imagine what it's like to be a woman who has to walk through life being careful and wary of the opposite gender. No one should have to experience that.
And I feel shame for the actions of others of my gender.
It just saddens me deeply.

I try to make a point when walking to check that lone female pilgrims are OK.
Maybe by just making sure I stay within sight on a lonely stretch. Or just saying Hi at a coffee stop.
All of which in itself can be tricky to do without seeming like a predator...... catch 22.
But most women have fairly good radars to tell them which guys are the 'creeps'.

I think all we can do as males is to be aware. To discretely 'be there' for our fellow Pilgrims.
And obviously be prepared to 'step up' if required.
 

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 understand pepper spray is available in Spain. Does anyone actually carry it on the Camino? Is it available at the sporting goods shops? I carry it while at home on my keychain. Thoughts?
@BucketBabe there will lots of thoughts here about that.
Mine are...don't bother. Really. Leave it at home.
I'm not naive nor totally inexperienced on the Camino, and a woman who has walked alone and will do again.
Just use your common sense and walk with others if you feel the need to. Even in October, you will have plenty of company on the Frances, and pilgrims do look after each other. At least that has been my experience.

And to reiterate the good advice from the mods here:
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..
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I understand pepper spray is available in Spain. Does anyone actually carry it on the Camino? Is it available at the sporting goods shops? I carry it while at home on my keychain. Thoughts?
Having been on both the giving end of OC (pepper spray) and receiving end (training) I can say a mist of it across my eyes dropped my 6', 90 kilo arse to my knees and I was incapacitated for at least 15 minutes. So it does work, and I recommend it for self defense, but....
I would be hesitant to try and locate it and carry it in Spain or Portugal strictly because of laws there and it does require a close proximity to the person you want to spray and I do not recommend closing the distance with a perverted wanker just to teach him a lesson . I do highly recommend having a very loud whistle available. Whistle, yell, scream and most of all run away/back away quickly.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
It's really encouraging to read your message. Thank you for taking the time to write and your kindness does make a difference. I'm walking my first Camino next week alone and it makes me feel better to think there will be people like yourself watching out for me.
Hi @Wandalina . May you have a wonderful time on your 1st? Camino.
The spirit on Camino is hard to describe.
It's like one big moving family.........
And we all watch out for each other in many different ways ;)

But like most families there is the occasional family member that irritates you.
Just hang back, or move on.............

Buen Camino.

I just remembered a story a wrote about 'Saving Pilgrim Susan'............
There were LOTS of fellow Pilgrims looking out for her!
This was on the CF............

Saving Pilgrim Susan
Just as an illustration of the support and community spirit that you’ll find on the Camino, let me tell you about Pilgrim Susan (name changed).

At dinner last night, the topic came up of a lady who was travelling with an older gentleman companion.

Everyone around the table had seen them and all remarked how the gentleman seemed not to be a gentleman. I mean……….it was that Obvious!

He always seemed to be abrupt and quite rude with staff in the restaurants and coffee stops. And he also seemed to be very controlling in terms of his companion, Susan.

As the discussion continued and the pilgrims around the table raised their concerns about Susan, other pilgrims who were passing joined in on the conversation.

When they said, “Oh, who are you talking about?” and we described the situation, every single one of them said “Oh, you mean the guy from xxx?”

We all committed to keeping an eye out for Susan and if appropriate, having a chat with her to see if she was okay.

I even heard that there was a group of ladies a day ahead of us whose mission was to Save Susan!

Without wishing to interfere, and promising to treat matters delicately, it just shows how the spirit of community and mutual support and looking out for each other is so powerful when you’re walking the Camino.

So if you are worried about friends or your kids traveling on the Camino on their own, don’t.

They will be amongst a hundred or more brothers and sisters, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas who will be looking out for their welfare.

N.B. If you are worried that everyone is watching you and talking about you. Don’t. People on the Camino are doing their own thing and are not intrusive. This was the only occasion I heard this type of talk. And it was purely out of concern for another Pilgrim’s well being. And because the guy was a complete ‘stand out’ JxxK.
 

mylifeonvacation

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (from Ferrol June 2014)
Camino Portuguese (from Tui May 2015)
Agree with the whistle idea. Lots of backpacks have them right on the front chest strap, built into the clasp. The one I'm wearing in my photo does. It occurred to me upon reading this last post that I don't know that I ever even tried blowing it. I just did, and it worked great - nice and loud. But, because it's very small it took a couple of tries to get position right for the volume I would want should a true emergency arise. I would recommend that not only should everyone have a whistle, but practice using it before you head out. That way if the situation arises, it's not the first time you've done it (let muscle memory work for you!).

Also, I just recently learned that iPhones have an Emergency SOS option where you press the power button on the side 5 times in a row to call for help (and it also sends your location to whomever you program). The video below explains it step by step:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208076
 

Georgina77

Vancouver Island in December
Camino(s) past & future
Future July 2015 hopefully......... did it awesome :)
I understand pepper spray is available in Spain. Does anyone actually carry it on the Camino? Is it available at the sporting goods shops? I carry it while at home on my keychain. Thoughts?
I carry it all the time at home and was wondering if it was available in Spain thank you this is great news for me mind you I forget I have it most of the time but if I need it hopefully I will remember it is right at the tip of my fingers
 

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)
wondering if it was available in Spain
If you carry this stuff you need to know that it is not legal everywhere in Europe. Information here.
In Spain it is legal depending on concentration:
" Approved pepper spray made with 5% CS is available to anyone older than 18 years.
OC pepper spray, recently adopted for some civilian use (e.g., one of 22 grams, with no registration DGSP-07-22-SDP, is approved by the Ministry of Health and Consumption).
"
In Portugal, it is regulated and you must register to carry it:
"Portugal: Civilians who do not have criminal records are allowed to get police permits to purchase from gun shops, carry, and use OC sprays with a maximum concentration of 5%."

My personal opinion is strongly held and I will refrain from saying much so as not to inflame the discussion.
Execpt to express sadness that people feel the need to carry what is essentially a weapon on the camino. Honestly, it is overkill. But a sign of the crazy times we live in.:confused:
 

Georgina77

Vancouver Island in December
Camino(s) past & future
Future July 2015 hopefully......... did it awesome :)
I think women every where have a problem just because we are women; I learned to always be on guard and To never take my safety for granted as far back as I can remember Yes even as a child many times having to duck, run and hid from over aggressive males has just been apart of my life . as most likely it has with most females ;not fun but a part of life every where ,I am afraid . Some women say they never have to worry I wonder if they are just in denial , have just been fortunate enough that there has always been another male or friend close by, Or they just didn't notice the predator and happened to do the right thing at the right time to avoid a situation. I think what you look like or your age has nothing to do with it in most cases seems most predators look for opportunity and a vulnerable female or male ; best thing is don't give them opportunity and if you have a means of self defense be ready and willing to use it and let them know you ARE prepared to fight if need be (in other words you have a means of defense and you will hurt them bad if necessary ) eg. pull out a very sharp knife , pick up a stick or a rock , and send them the message you can handle and protect your self and will if need be ; if you have keys space them between your fingers and if a man comes at you try to hit him in the eyes ; I hit a man in his mid twenties once he was over 6 feet and athletic build ; I gave him what is called an upper cut to the under part of his jaw and he went down like a sack of potatoes I was only 21 at the time I weighed 110 and was 5ft 4 knocked him out cold he was so busy threatening me and being a jerk he didn't even see it coming I got him with the element of surprise His last words to me where so what are you going to do about it and I showed him instead of telling him ; so you don't need to be big only really really angry; Yes get angry instead of afraid as they love to invoke fear and feed off of it , but they under estimate what your anger and even laugh at you ; an upper cut is where you bring you make a fist and slowly bring your arm back and with out warning and as hard as you can you swing it straight forward in an upward motion going for the under part of the chin of the aggressor with all you got connect ; Trust me he wont be ready for it and wont know what hit him ; Don't stand there after in shock looking at him get out of there as fast as possible and report it sap
 

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 think women every where have a problem just because we are women
It is not the lens I see the world through - I'm the sort that has never worried about this much: I'm not naive, but neither am I on the defensive by default.
Some women say they never have to worry I wonder if they are just in denial
For me it's not denial at all, but it does sound like we have a very different set of life experiences. And that's bound to color our outlooks.
I'm touched by your post, Georgina, and am sorry that even as a child you had no place of safety from male violence. No wonder you feel as you do. I have had the good fortune to grow up and work among genuinely gentle men, so cannot imagine (nor judge) your vantage point - as you likely can't imagine mine.
Seeing though the lens of my experience, I perceive men as harmless by default.
You obviously have had the opposite experience and so quite naturally see men through a different lens.

I do agree that there are situations when we women may need to defend ourselves, even with force. But in all honesty I do not believe that the best defense is a good offense everywhere and all the time. Not to deny that dangerous situations do exist. They do. But in my reasonably well-traveled experience, on the Camino those are rare by comparison to the rest of the planet.

And as you say - if something happens, remove yourself and report what happened ASAP.
 

BucketBabe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances planned for October 3-mid November (2018)
Everyone comes to this with a different perspective shaped by their lives. I was in the Navy Reserve. I have had some great training. I worked in the ER where I was regularly threatened and saw terrible things occasionally. I have been "flashed" twice in my 50+ years - once as a 10 year old and once in my late 20's. Stuff happens. I remember Meredith Emerson's sad ending every time I hike alone. Pepper Spray is legal and effective if used properly and gives a nice window in which to obtain help. Also, if in the correct concentration, if purchased in Spain, it's legal. I have a whistle because my backpack does not have one. I know the emergency number. Is it available in the Sporting Goods shops? Does anyone know if available in Pamplona?
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
This is helpful on US State Department on Portugal - I am sure there is one on every country

https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=21374

Portugal is a safe country - from what I read here

The website gives this information if you are assaulted - but please understand, that I am not sure if "flashing" is defined as "assault" ok? Please read this page on woman and safety to determine for yourself, ok?

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/travelers-with-special-considerations/women-travelers.html

Having said that, this is the info the state department gives for sexual assault victims:

If you or someone you know is facing or has been a victim of sexual assault overseas, please contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) or the closest U.S. embassy or consulate. Please refer to our Country Information or this list of U.S. embassy and consulate locations for contact details.

TheSparrow
 
Last edited:

gypsy9

Active Member
Insightful and helpful posts—thanks. I have walked solo various ways to Santiago de Compostela/ Muxía/finisterre five times now and never had any problems—not even a flasher—and always walking solo as this is my kind of pilgrimage. I am aware and alert and in one remote areas in France I walked/ran—just a feeling I got a that I cannot substantiate as sometimes the mind embellishes fears that aren’t real...plus I didn’t see anyone, just felt v vulnerable (this was rare)...but I do trust my instincts so who knows,,,,

I have not walked Camino de Portugal However having read theOP...I would not walk the section mentioned solo

For me it is not worth it...I think it is a primal fear —rape and violence. In most cases women are physically weaker and in our cultural history as a race, rape has been sanctioned (tool of war/domestic violence/sex trafficking etc).
 

BucketBabe

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances planned for October 3-mid November (2018)
just a feeling I got a that I cannot substantiate as sometimes the mind embellishes fears that aren’t real...plus I didn’t see anyone, just felt v vulnerable (this was rare)...but I do trust my instincts so who knows,,,,

I have not walked Camino de Portugal However having read theOP...I would not walk the section mentioned solo

For me it is not worth it...I think it is a primal fear —rape and violence. In most cases women are physically weaker and in our cultural history as a race, rape has been sanctioned (tool of war/domestic violence/sex trafficking etc).
Always trust your gut....always :) I concur with all of the above. My gut tells me to buy pepper spray (legally, of course)...better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
 

TheSparrow

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese (2019) Walked Tomar to Coimbra - Porto to Ponte Vedra - Spiritual Variant to Santiago
I have learned a lot about the experiences and thoughts about solo women walking, especially North of Lisbon (NoLo) = North of Lisbon - I just made that up!

I am ducking out of this thread, but, I will post early next year what day I start out of Tomar in March -- and if any women want to join me then I welcome to head north together! Maybe we can have a little pack if you like - at least up to Coimbra or so.

PM me if you think you might be wanting to walk out of Tomar earlish March of 2019 and we can get a plan going.

The Sparrow
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
In thinking about safety; and remembering my past time as sea kayaker. I like the whistle idea for communication. I carry one (Fox40) as part of my solo hiking/emergency kit for the Sierras and now Cascades. A whistle carries further and lasts longer than a voice: Although there is no true standard, the following is common:
one blast--for attention
two blasts--to get the rest of the group to stop
three blasts--emergency
So, were I to use a whistle for safety on a camino, I would use 3 (longish) blasts for a potential molester. And I have no idea the intensity and range of the built-in backpack signalling device. Kayak whistles are about 110db and can be heard for up to half a mile.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
We are two senior women walking together. We have been on the CF - off times when there are few pilgrims on the trails. When the Trail takes us into woods, especially when it appears isolated, we opt for the roads. We each carry a whistle attached to the strap of our backpacks which we can get at immediately. We also carry a cell phone with speed dialing set to 112 for emergencies. I trust my gut! While we walk slowly, I am almost always aware of my surroundings visually and auditorially. We do what we can to walk safely.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
In thinking about safety; and remembering my past time as sea kayaker. I like the whistle idea for communication. I carry one (Fox40) as part of my solo hiking/emergency kit for the Sierras and now Cascades. A whistle carries further and lasts longer than a voice: Although there is no true standard, the following is common:
one blast--for attention
two blasts--to get the rest of the group to stop
three blasts--emergency
So, were I to use a whistle for safety on a camino, I would use 3 (longish) blasts for a potential molester. And I have no idea the intensity and range of the built-in backpack signalling device. Kayak whistles are about 110db and can be heard for up to half a mile.
Yes, those are very loud whistles. Louder than the one's that are integrated into a lot of backpack chest straps these days. I would think to any peregrina concerned for safety one of those Fox whistles would be worth the 5-6 euros they cost. They come with a lanyard ring. You can wear it around your neck or attach it to your pack.
I cannot imagine any wanker wanting to continue his gratification whilst a woman is putting out loud, obnoxious whistle blasts. Surely that would spoil his mood, so to speak.
 

joecamino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Just as a side note - if women compiled how much worry we had we would be harmed by men - one half of our species - it would be unimaginable. We need more men to speak up for us here - to tell us to walk and make our lives compelling and adventurous ! Men do not fear men exposing themselves to them because men rarely expose to other men - for fears of being harmed!!
Sparrow-- taking you up on your challenge, and wishing you amazing Camino. I had so much to think / plan / worry about doing my Camino last year. Being prepared for someone attacking / harassing me wasn't even on my radar. The fact that it is a factor for so many here hurts my heart.
 

joecamino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 CF
Everyone comes to this with a different perspective shaped by their lives. I was in the Navy Reserve. I have had some great training. I worked in the ER where I was regularly threatened and saw terrible things occasionally. I have been "flashed" twice in my 50+ years - once as a 10 year old and once in my late 20's. Stuff happens. I remember Meredith Emerson's sad ending every time I hike alone. Pepper Spray is legal and effective if used properly and gives a nice window in which to obtain help. Also, if in the correct concentration, if purchased in Spain, it's legal. I have a whistle because my backpack does not have one. I know the emergency number. Is it available in the Sporting Goods shops? Does anyone know if available in Pamplona?
BucketBabe-- hope you're on the other side of Pamplona now, and having an amazing time!
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
A very unsettling event for you, fortunately he was not aggressive.

The choice to walk alone is a personal one and one is only alone on the Camino by choice. In a perfect world you should be able to walk alone without any fear of being hassled or worse.

Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world.

I believe Spain and Portugal are likely safer than most of the countries we come from. I believe if you wish a solo experience, then you at least need to walk in somewhat close proximity to other walkers so as not to be a target. This is not hard to do and I believe it would just be common sense for most.

The best part of any of my Camino's have been meeting and talking to people.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I believe if you wish a solo experience, then you at least need to walk in somewhat close proximity to other walkers so as not to be a target. This is not hard to do and I believe it would just be common sense for most.
@zrexer
If you "wish a solo experience" do you "need to walk in somewhat close proximity to other walkers so as not to be a target?" Would you be willing to adjust your walking pace and your definition of "a solo experience" in order to feel safe? If you don't need to do so, do you think it reasonable to refer to another human being who doesn't want to do so either as lacking common sense?
 

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