Due to an exciting combo of two terrorist groups launching numerous attacks, rising sexual assaults, and harassment, Turkey ranks #6 on the 2016 List of 10 Worst Countries for Women Travelers.
Rating: Dangerous and Obnoxious
With its ancient ruins, world famous mosques, palaces and museums, this could be high on a woman traveler’s bucket list, but Turkey has grown even more dangerous in 2016. Since our last report, sexual assault has become worse for women tourists, and the use of date rape drugs is being reported. Sexual assault of native women and tourists has increased, which some are blaming on the ruling party’s (AKP) policies toward women.
Unfortunately, for travelers it’s not just the danger of assault, it’s also being harassed, stared at, pinched, and followed because of being female and traveling. Unless you’re in Istanbul, cover up completely, which means the dress code includes ankle length skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and a head scarf. Doesn’t that sound like fun in hot weather?
It speaks volumes that the Turkish police cracked down on protesters at the International Women’s Day Rally. Really.
The US State Department issued a travel warning for most of the provinces in southeastern Turkey but particularly near the southern border with Syria. According to the Overseas Advisory Council’s February 2016 travel warning, be aware of threats to foreigners in southeastern Turkey, particularly at tourist sites. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a US government facility in Istanbul. Turkey has also been cursed with not one, but two active terrorist groups; Kurdish militants and Isis, increasing risk to tourists. There was a suicide bombing in the capital, Ankara killing 34 people and wounding 125 others. In January 12, 2016, 10 tourists were killed in a suicide bombing followed by a second attack in Ankara on March 17, 2016 that killed 37 people. Additionally, a popular shopping area in Instanbul was attacked on March 19, 2016, killing two tourists. The Government of Canada, also, issued travel warnings. Street crime, though, tends to be low.
The enormous influx of refugees from Syria has created economic difficulties and social tensions in border towns like Kilis and Gazientep, which has taken in 200,000 Syrian refugees. The Turks should get credit for all they have done for refugees; but travel warnings by various countries like the US and Australia recommend a high degree of caution throughout Turkey and explicitly recommend against travel in the border area with Syria. The United Kingdom also recommends against all travel in the Turkish border regions.
If you want to go to Turkey or must go: It is best to go with companions, preferably male, to avoid harassment. Ephesus has great ruins. Be sure to go early and take lots of water due to the heat. By the way, you don’t have to hire the drivers and shouldn’t unless you want to spend most of your time at the shops. Do not buy relics; it’s illegal! Troy also has terrific ruins. Remember, you need an E-Visa now to travel to Turkey!
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.
Cover photo: The Telegraph
Description: Photo: Rex Features