Against the advice of my loved ones, I traveled alone to Egypt in the summer. I booked my two month trip and it was set in stone– I was going. And I was absolutely terrified; I was going to get raped, molested, killed, harassed, kidnapped… or so I was told.
The thing is, I was told all these things by people who had never been to Egypt as a solo female. They didn’t even KNOW a solo female traveler who’d been to Egypt. Most people haven’t the slightest idea what it’s like, but I do. I stayed for two months and I know exactly what it’s like. I walked the streets alone at night, I drank alcohol and I befriended Egyptian men. This is the truth about traveling alone to Egypt as a woman.
Is it dangerous?
Just like nearly everywhere else on the planet, yes. It can be, anyways. There are people there, after all. I’m by no means saying that sexual assault is ever the victims fault, but there’s always precautions you can take to make yourself safer in a country like Egypt.
What can I do to protect myself?
Remember that Egypt is a Muslim country and be respectful of their religion. No, you don’t have to dress like the a Muslim woman and NO you don’t have to cover up your hair all the time (but that does help keep you cool). Just keep in mind that the men there don’t see cleavage, shoulders or thighs everyday. Dress conservatively.
What should I wear in Egypt?
T-shirts instead of tank tops. Knee length shorts instead of booty shorts.
Before I left for Egypt, people were desperately begging me to wear long sleeves and long pants. They honestly wanted me to wear warm clothing knowing I was going at the hottest time of the year. The weather there reached up to 49°C! I’m from Canada, so how the heck am I supposed to wear all that without getting heatstroke?! It’s unreasonable and frankly, unsafe. I packed long sleeve shirts, but never once wore them unless I was in my air-conditioned hotel room.
Every day I wore knee length shorts, tees and in certain cities I even wore shirts that revealed cleavage. Some of the things I wore fit my body, others were baggy.
Did you ever get molested in Egypt?
Yes. Surprisingly this was in front of a group of fellow tourists from Canada, US and Australia. I was not alone during the incident. We had witnessed a car accident and while everyone was standing on the sidewalk watching, some Egyptian guy walked up to me and grabbed my tits. I slapped his hand and walked away from him and joined the rest of the group. I reached out to the tourist group for help and the most fucked up part of this story is no one did anything to help me except suggest I “stand beside the white guy”… The molester followed me over and continued to stand close to me and touched me again.
So how did I get this guy away from me? I yelled at him to fuck off. I caused a scene. Many Arabic people can understand the words “fuck off”, so it drew the attention of other Egyptians… and guess what? The molester fucked off.
The reason I’m sharing this story is because this happened in my first week in Egypt. I learned a valuable lesson in this situation and for the rest of my trip I felt perfectly safe. I was never touched inappropriately again.
How can I keep the creeps away?
Whenever you feel uncomfortable, cause a scene! I cannot emphasize this enough. If you draw attention to the situation, the creep will immediately stop (and in most cases panic and run off). This works because the police have absolutely no tolerance for abuse against anyone, especially foreigners. They’ll literally beat the crap out of someone for simply placing an unwelcome hand on a tourist.
What else can I do to keep people away?
Understand that some Muslims will automatically assume you are a slut if you’re a white female. No matter what you’re wearing. Understand that something that seems quite innocent to you can be very sexual to them. Muslims believe in waiting until marriage for sex. Even holding hands before marriage is prohibited. That being said, a friendly touch on the arm isn’t so “friendly” to them. If you don’t immediately stop them from touching you, they will potentially try to advance their actions.
What do I do if someone touches me in a nonsexual way?
You don’t have to cause a scene or get mad. But a polite, “Why are you touching me?” works. Something along those lines will work fine and they will get the hint.
So, you’re saying I shouldn’t let any Egyptian men touch me at all?
No, but use your discretion and remember what I said. I would never let an Egyptian stranger touch me. I’m not saying I never hugged my Egyptian friends hello or good-bye… just established the relationship first. Make sure they understand that you’re just friends, then if you feel comfortable and a boundary is set, you’ll be fine.
Is there anything else I can do to prevent creeps?
Simple. Wear a fake engagement ring. Most men there are strongly against cheating (just like in the Western world). You don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a ring. I went to a market near my house and bought a “silver and diamond” ring for $5. It was plastic. Worked like a charm.
Are all Egyptian men like this?
No, no, no, no! Not even close! In fact, I rarely felt uncomfortable or unsafe. I met some absolutely amazing people during my time in Egypt, many of which I will hold in my heart forever. I love my Egyptian friends and it just so happened that all of them were men. Yes, I got hit on way more than I do at home, but I would put an end to them hitting on me immediately by explaining to them how much I love my (imaginary) fiancé.
I’m not telling you to be scared of Egyptian men, I’m simply trying to explain how you can stay safe. The risk of something like this happening is higher than in the west, but I think the chances of you meeting a genuinely kind and beautiful soul is also higher.
I love Egyptians because I find them to be truly caring and loving. They simply want to make you smile. I would see tons of people I knew every day and if I didn’t have a smile on my face, they would stop me and try to make me laugh.
When I was sick, my Egyptian friend bought me medicine. When I got a sunburn, he bought me sunscreen. When I was bored, he would smoke with me and usually pay.
The main point to take away from this article is that you should not let your friends and family scare you away from Egypt. If you’re a female with no one to travel with and have always wanted to go to Egypt… GO! You’ll be fine. It’s one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever been to and I had a life-changing experience.
I had let people who’d never been to Egypt absolutely terrify me! They weren’t excited for me to go and as the days crept up, I wasn’t excited to go, either. I regretted buying that plane ticket before even boarding the plane. Don’t let this happen to you, too. Don’t be scared of “dangerous” Egypt. Get excited to step into the world of Ancient Tombs, desert safaris, sandy beaches, outstanding food and absolutely wonderful people!