Turkey is one of the most tempting travel destinations in the world since it’s on the Mediterranean coast, is a spectacularly beautiful place, and has many interesting ancient and modern places to visit. Unfortunately, they also have a Global Peace Index of 147 (out of 163) and have a World Economic Forum rank of 44 (out of 141). This is due to a nasty combination of terrorism, a dictator hostile to women and foreigners, and civil unrest that gets dangerous. As such, Turkey ranks number six on the Eight Most Dangerous Countries for Women Travelers.
Turkey has gotten worse since their state of emergency, which began after a failed coup in 2016; the fallout continues today. The US State Dept. suggests “reconsidering your need to travel” due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions as well as recommending not traveling at all to some areas of Turkey (Avoid areas along the Turkey-Syria border and the southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Sirnak, Diyarbakir, Van, Siirt, Mus, Mardin, Batman, Bingol, Tunceli, Hakkari, and Bitlis) due to terrorists targeting tourist attractions, transportation hubs, hotels, restaurants, and pretty much any place a tourist would go. Turkey has a terrible human rights record and has been detaining visitors and not allowing them access to attorneys, family members, or consulate officers. Also, one has to avoid large demonstrations, which are dangerous. In Southeastern Turkey and along the Syrian border, the hapless tourist may have to deal with large-scale terrorist attacks including suicide bombings, ambushes, car bomb detonations, improvised explosive devices, as well as kidnappings for ransom, shootings, roadblocks, and violent demonstrations have occurred in these areas.
As for women, there was a 25% increase in femicide in 2017. Official government policy has been to push women out of public areas and there have been an increase in attacks on women since the 2016 coup with very little action by the government to protect women. Between the terrorism, crime, and hostility to women, Turkey is hardly a good tourist destination for women. Sadly, when the UN came out with a report detailing these serious problems, Turkey reacted as if it were propaganda, which is hardly a good sign.
If you want to go or must go: Antalya and Fethiye are coastal resorts along the Mediterranean, that haven’t had noticeable problems. They are many miles away both from the larger cities of Istanbul and the capital Ankara in the north, as well as the dangerous areas along the border with Syria and Iraq in the east. If you do go, driving can be a bit hazardous so be careful.
Conclusion: Perhaps you are thinking it would be better to go where a woman can travel freely and safely, if so, please refer to our 10 Safest Countries for Women Travelers, Best Countries in Africa, Best Places in Oceania, Best Countries in South America, and Best and Worst of North America.
Cover photo: Courtesy of Al Jazeera
Description: Demonstrators mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Istanbul on Saturday [AFP]