After more than a year on the road, people asked many times if I’m not afraid of travelling alone. I debated myself a lot about this question, but at the end I decided that the answer is no. I’m not afraid of travelling alone because I am afraid all the time. No matter if I travel or not. Travelling does not make my fear greater, because not even home feels safe.
A week ago Mara, a Mexican 19-year-old student, left a nightclub and took a taxi back to her place. But she never made it home. She was found days later in a motorway. And yes, she was dead.
After almost twenty countries and fourteen months away from home, people call me reckless for hitting the road on my own, but what they don´t realise is that the travelling part is not the problem. Being a woman is the real risk.
“She was dressed provocatively” “She was out late” “She was a woman”
Mara did not leave her country and still she was murdered. Mara took her precautions and decided to take a taxi instead of driving and yet her life was taken. And even after being held against her will, sexually abused and assassinated, people are still blaming her: “She was careless”, “she was drinking”, “she was partying”, “she was dressed provocatively”, “she was out late”, “she was a woman”.
“Mara’s death matters because she is all of us”
Mara’s death matters because it could have been me. Mara’s death matters because she is all of us. And Mara’s death matters because it represents everything that all of those haters, chauvinist critics and flawed justice systems will never understand.
They won´t know what is like to look over your shoulder every time you are walking down the street. When you are a woman, your wallet is not the only possession you should take care of.
They won´t know how public transportation has a dress code, how your body also becomes public once you cross the underground doors.
They will never know the fine line between the virgin and the whore. The way people judge us by how we live our sexuality or our lack of it.
They won´t know how is it to matter first by how you look like and then by what you do. The way in which not being pretty is a crime, but being pretty is a risk.
They won´t know how is it to measure your clothes. Every extra centimetre on your heels, every centimeter less on your dress… Since when the Metric System became a measurement for consent? They will never know how is it to have a skirt as the only criminal in a murder case.
They will never know that it doesn´t matter if you stay home, if you go out of your house or out of your country, there is always, ALWAYS going to be someone who feels entitled to tell you what to do, how to dress or how to act just because you are a woman.
“Yes, I am afraid, but not of travelling alone, but of coming back home”
So yes, I am afraid. But staying put is not the answer. Not travelling, not drinking, not going out is not the answer. While women are still perceived as vulnerable, disposable, powerless objects, we will still be in danger, no matter if we are in a pub, a museum or the other side of the world.
Yes, I am afraid, but not of travelling alone, but of coming back home, a place where someone can kill a woman, get away with it and make the victim carry the blame of his crime.