2016 List of 10 Worst Countries For Women Travelers
Much as we love and encourage travel, we don’t agree with travel industry websites that seek to convince you that any country is great for women so long as you have the right heels and lipstick. In fact, we believe some countries are far more dangerous than others and have unique hazards that should be understood by the adventurous traveler or avoided. In addition to this year’s list, we include Dishonorable Mentions because we would be remiss to omit them.
We have two basic categories: Dangerous and Obnoxious (harassing women, problematic laws and enforcement, and otherwise negative treatment).
Unlike other articles that offer a ten worst list, we cover countries where women are likely to travel for pleasure, business, or religious purposes.
- As to where we get the nerve to say such horrible things about such amazing countries, see the footnote at the end of the article.*
- If you are curious about other problematic countries, please check at the end for our list of countries to avoid unless you are a humanitarian aid worker or professional journalist.**
- This article is not cluttered with standard warnings that we would hope any idiot would know but to be on the safe side, they’re at the end.***
- And finally, to avoid the yearly onslaught of shocked emails: Yes, we know there are many great things about each of these countries but we’ll leave it to the conventional travel industry to mention them. And no, we can’t remove your country from the list or recommend that women spend their travel dollars there until your country is less hostile and hazardous to women (or even worse countries take their place).
2016 List of 10 Worst Countries For Women Travelers
- INDIA – Dangerous and Obnoxious
What again? Unfortunately for those of us who appreciate Indian food, culture and history, India still ranks worst and new this year, many countries are now warning against travel there because of terrorism and insurgency concerns. India’s top safety concerns include rape, bombings, grenades, shooting, acid attacks, and kidnapping. [Update 7/25/2016 – Women tourists continue to be attacked.] More about India
- MEXICO – Really Dangerous
Mexico managed to edge up to number 2 on countries to avoid this year based on its exciting combination of violent crimes. Yes, it’s still true that millions of tourists go to Mexico without mishap and many areas are safe. However, kidnappings are up, and drug trafficking and gang violence continue to be a problem. [Update 8/3/2016 – Raped Mexican girl denied services] More about Mexico
- BRAZIL – Very Dangerous and Obnoxious
Unfortunately, in Brazil crime is still high; there is political unrest with massive demonstrations, and Zika virus. The Olympics will be held there which means lots of tourists are likely to be affected. Brazil still has the third highest homicide rate in the world. More about Brazil
- EGYPT – Dangerous and Obnoxious
As of 2016, Egypt remains a very dangerous place due to terrorism from ISIS, and a high rate of rape, kidnapping, robbery. More about Egypt
- SAUDI ARABIA – Obnoxious and Dangerous
Saudi Arabia makes the list because an estimated 3.7 million pilgrims go on the Hajj and 45-55% of pilgrims are women. If you look at the death toll for women tourists, it looks like Saudi Arabia is the most lethal country on Earth since roughly 1,200 women died there in 2015. More about Saudi Arabia
- TURKEY – Obnoxious and Dangerous
Turkey has grown more dangerous in 2016 due to terrorism attacks. Sexual assault of native women and tourists is up, which have led some to blame the ruling party AKPs policies toward women. The use of date rape drugs, also, is being reported as an issue for female tourists. Additionally, women travelers are being harassed, stared, groped and followed. More about Turkey
- HONDURAS – Dangerous
Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the region or world due to organized crime, drug traffickers and a lack of adequate judicial response (80% of murders go unpunished). Additionally, there are high levels of gang violence, armed robbery and rape. More about Honduras
- KENYA – Dangerous
The situation remains very dangerous in Kenya due to terrorist activities and violent crime. Crimes include armed carjacking, grenade attacks, kidnapping, sexual assaults and kidnapping of tourists, and armed robbery. More about Kenya
- COLOMBIA – Obnoxious and Dangerous
Columbia has the worst homicide rate in South America (and worse than other continents.) Even women rights defenders have been targeted and raped. Law enforcement has not been helpful in prosecuting attackers. Women who are sexually attacked have difficulty getting adequate medical treatment due to lack of facilities and interest in appropriate care after such an attack. [Update 9/25/16: While we delighted that the Colombian government and FARC are making significant progress implementing the peace settlement, it could be difficult for FARC fighters to integrate into Colombian communities and the FARC organization to transition to a political party. Update: 8/28/16: In positive news, after 52 years of war the Colombian government and FARC have negotiated a peace settlement, including some rights for women. This is important for Colombian women and women tourists as women are disproportionately affected by war. We commend Colombia and FARC for addressing the complicated issues in the peace settlement.] More about Colombia
- JAMAICA – Dangerous
New for 2016, Jamaica managed to make the top ten mostly due to its high level of crime, particularly violent crime as well as the Zika virus. Street gangs and organized crime are responsible for much, but not all, of the crime which includes armed robbery, kidnapping and murder homicide, sexual assault and robbery. More about Jamaica
Though we’re trying to keep it to ten, it’s hard not to mention the following countries that are highly problematic in their own right:
- RUSSIA – The Russian Federation totally dominates Eastern Europe for homicides. More about Russia
- SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa is the absolute worst in Africa for homicides. More about South Africa
- VENEZUELA – Ranked as the worst in South America for homicides. Human trafficking is significant and an issue for tourists and local women. Harassment and rape are also serious problems. More about Venezuela
Conclusion: Perhaps you are thinking it would be better to go where a woman can travel freely and safely, please refer to our 10 safest countries for women tourists.
* Footnote Regarding Sources and Threats:
No one is collecting statistics that affect women travelers and international organization data is either dated or no longer being collected. So we’re limited to government advisories, statistics kept by the US state dept as to where Americans die and how frequently, the news and other sources that aren’t nearly as good as data. However, until women’s safety is viewed with the same enthusiasm as soccer, this is as good as it gets. Here are our sources.
** Only Professional Journalists or Humanitarian Aid Workers should go to the following countries:
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- South Sudan
*** Do not travel alone at night, keep your doors locked when driving, in fact, lock your hotel door securely, do not carry large amounts of cash or wave wads of it about, don’t wear expensive jewelry or cameras in sketchy areas, do not accept drinks or rides or really anything from strangers, avoid careening around drunk at night, refrain from insulting others deeply held religious beliefs, etc. Seriously, anyone who needs to be told this really ought not be let out of their house unsupervised, much less out of the country, since it’s not safe to do most of these things anywhere, actually.