In defense of women traveling alone

Image via oldtownquito.com

Image via oldtownquito.com

This is downtown Montañita, a small coastal town in Ecuador about 180km north west of Guayaquil. Pretty huh? I think so too.

When I first heard of this place, a friend of mine was backpacking through South America. He sent me a message from the beach, his beer, and the group of new friends he’d made. I was happy for him, he was having a great time.

Montañita draws travelers from all over the world. They come for the year-round surf and stay for the laid back vibes. In the 60s it rivaled South East Asia for its hippie population, it now boasts some of the world’s most challenging waves.

Maria Coni and Marina Menegazzo obviously agreed when the put this spot on their itinerary for their backpacking trip. Unfortunately, this would be the last trip the girls would take. According to Ecuadorian press, the girls ran out of money and were staying with a friend of a friend. A kindly offer? Perhaps. But now two young girls are murdered and two men have been detained.

As more and more details come out, as the picture of what may have happened become clearer; questions have been raised about the risk that the girls took. I’ve seen comments such as “Why were they alone?” or “What were they thinking?”

Prominent Argentine psychiatrist Hugo Marietan said the girls “took a risk” and labelled them “scapegoats”, stating on Twitter that “There are parts of the world that are not ready for full freedom of the woman.”

That gem was followed by: “Women, you are also responsible for your preservation. Do [you] serve your feminist theories in that final moment?”

In response to this, solo female travellers all over the world have rallied. On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook we have hit back. To see our responses, follow the #viajasola threads on Instagram and Twitter. Viajasola is Spanish word for “I travel alone” and is the ultimate response to the victim blaming that has been thrown around after the tragic and callous crime that ended the lives of two young and daring women.

Vale, Maria and Marina.

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