Should women travel alone in Latin America? Remembering the 2 Argentine girls who were murdered in Ecuador
The photo above was taken in Baños, Ecuador – some 400km away from where two Argentine girls were murdered. Marina Menegazzo (21 years old) and Maria Jose Coni (22 years old) bid their family and friends goodbye on January 2017 for a 45-day travel in their region. On to their second month of traveling, they went missing.
We, once again, woke up to the horrific truth about the reality of what solo female travelers are facing all over the world. I traveled South America for over 3 years and luckily never had a bad experience but then I thought, Marina and Maria Jose were in the same places that I was. What if it was me? What if it was a girl friend of mine? What if it was my sister?
News of their tragic death spread all over the world. It even shattered dreams of women who had already planned their Latin American sojourn. The region that I love so much (South America is probably my favourite) was avoided by many women travelers for the past year because of what happened to Marina and Maria Jose.
Of course, netizens will never be out of the picture. In the middle of the mourning their families and friends in Argentina, people from all over the world cared to do victim-blaming.
“Why did they go out with strangers? Moreover, why were they traveling Latin America without male companions? Women shouldn’t travel alone in Latin America!”
The remarks and criticism affected a lot of women travelers all over the world, including me. We turned to each other and said, “Wait… they are wrong. Of course, we can travel alone!”
We can even travel in groups, with our girl friends, with our sisters. Yes, we can!
Since I was 20, I’ve been traveling the world by myself. I got to the Latin America lands when I was 23 and I never felt that I needed to travel with a ‘male companion.’ I did it myself (and still doing it) and I feel like there is no reason for us to be belittled or criticised just because we want to see the world. Women are free to travel by themselves, with their sisters, with their girl friends without the thinking of the threat of being harmed. By doing so, I knew that the decision to travel by myself changed my life and that, in the long run, have enriched and helped in honing the person I am now.
Amidst the outcry and the mourning, Karen, Victoria and Emma, three girls from Latin America decided to put up Women Travel Latin America (WTLA), a website/blog inspiring women to travel Latin America, discover its wonders and hidden secrets, and perhaps discover some hidden truths about ourselves and our place in the world along the way. This is a website is made to help women through the uncertain moments and to rejoice in their discoveries.
In honour of Marina and Maria Jose, WTLA decided to publish a book that will feature stories about traveling Latin America alone. The Editors of WTLA knew they can’t do it alone so they are now calling for entries and stories to be included in the book.
This is the best channel to share your stories: your unexpected triumphs, your moments of laughter or tears, the risks you took, the people you met, and the invisible barriers you broke along the way. Every single one of us has a story worth publishing and by submitting your entries, you will not just help and support Marina and Maria Jose but also all the girls from all over the world.
How to get your story included in Alone Together Anthology
Selected winning entries will be included in the 2017 Alone Together anthology published by the Bogota International Press.
If we stand together as women who travel alone in Latin America, not only that we will break barriers but also educate people from all over the world that we, women can travel alone without the fear of being harmed. Submit your story today and let your voice be heard.
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