Sexual assault and harassment can happen anywhere to anyone. It's never the victim's fault.
Read this page before you go to learn about:
This page offers general advice on reducing your risk of sexual assault and harassment when travelling. If you're overseas and need help, see our advice on what to do if you've been sexually assaulted.
Before you go
In Australia, sexual harassment and assault are crimes. Unfortunately, be aware that it's normalised in many countries. In some, it may even be legal. It's important to know and understand the violent crime rates and laws in your destination.
Keep in mind that no one can completely eliminate the risk of sexual assault.
- Read the travel advice for your destination. Find out if sexual assault is common or legal there.
- Understand the local laws and customs of your destination. Find out if cultural expectations exist for clothing or behaviour, especially for women.
- You may want to learn self-defence before you go. This can give you physical strategies to help fend off an attacker.
- Consider a sexual assault prevention course. These courses teach men and women verbal strategies to diffuse a situation before it escalates.
Avoiding dangerous situations
Before you go, make sure you know what to watch out for. This includes what situations to avoid when exploring, socialising or in transit.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable, leave.
- Be cautious of unsolicited invitations from strangers. Especially if they try to separate you from your travelling companions.
- Wear clothing that respects local laws and customs, even if you disagree with the local way. It can help you avoid unwanted attention.
- Watch for people following you. Especially at night. If you think you're being followed, find somewhere populated and well-lit.
- Avoid going into the back rooms of shops where you can't see the street.
- Avoid walking alone or through poorly lit areas at night. If you head out, always take someone with you.
- Only use licensed taxis. Refuse offers from drivers who approach you.
- Don't wear resort wristbands or other items that can identify where you're staying.
- If a bartender makes your cocktail or mixer out of sight, refuse it. You won't know what's in it. Only accept a drink you've watched them make, start to finish.
- Reduce the risk of drink spiking. Don't leave your drink unattended, especially in bars or public spaces.
- Stay in control when drinking. Don't use drugs. You need to have your wits about you while travelling. It's easier for a perpetrator to target and overcome you when disorientated.
- Be cautious if leaving a venue with someone you've just met. Even if it's just as friends. You're more vulnerable when separated from people you know.
In transit or your accommodation
- If any doors or windows to your accommodation are broken, do not enter. Contact the police.
- Don't hang towels or clothing on the balcony railings of your accommodation. Perpetrators can use them to identify your room.
- Sit up the front near the driver on buses and coaches.
- If travelling overnight on a train, boat or bus, choose a seat or berth that offers more protection from perpetrators.
Cybercrime is increasing everywhere. Perpetrators can take advantage of your online footprint to find information about you. They may also use apps to target victims.
- Don't hand out your social media details to strangers. Consider making your accounts private.
- Don't post information or photos online that someone could use to identify where you're currently staying. Wait until you've left an area to post holiday snaps.
- Be cautious if using dating apps overseas.
Read our full advice on cyber security while travelling.
- Read the 'safety' and 'local laws' sections of the travel advisory for your destinations.
- See our advice on what to do if you're a victim of sexual assault overseas.
- Understand how and when we can help. Read the Consular Service Charter.
- Sexual violence is a global issue. See the WHO's interactive map on sexual violence prevalence in different countries (The WHO).
- Read more about sexual assault while travelling (Government of Canada).
- Learn more about sexual harassment (Australian Human Rights Commission).
- Learn more about sexual violence as a major health and welfare issue (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).