28 November, 2018 Security
The recent accusations of sexual assaults at Caribbean resorts, particularly in Jamaica, are based on professional research and analyses by the US State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), and multiple, recent press reports such as this disturbing story run by the Chicago Tribune.
While no threat mitigation methods or procedures are 100% effective, there are precautions travelers can take to reduce the risks of being caught in specific attack scenarios. Being familiar with these scenarios and how they happen is key to avoidance. This requires a “know before you go” attitude and doing “security homework” prior to visiting a particular destination, especially at those hotels/resorts that just pay mouth service to guest safety and security.
Muir Analytics listed multiple such assault scenarios in a threat analysis, here. A few threat mitigation suggestions, based on these attack scenarios, are as follows:*
First, if sexual assaults occur at a specific resort, travelers should not go to that resort. This should be the primary personal security action of the holidaymaker. And while this might sound overly simple, holidaymakers frequently ignore such threats, thinking it will never happen to them, or they’re simply focused on good travel deals and getting away to tropical, white sandy beaches. And why not? From the traveler’s point of view, vacations are time to forget all the hassles of life and relax in a safe environment. This is the way it should be, but sometimes, it’s not.
As an aside, letting the management know that one has avoided their resort because of threat issues might trigger hotels/resorts to upgrade security.
Second, if sexual assault scenarios happen in a given region, but the resort seems safe, travelers should, nevertheless, be familiar with the violence scenarios/threat behavior in that region, and then act accordingly to protect themselves.
Third, if research on sexual assault scenarios (such as from press articles and OSAC/US State Department threat warnings) follow a pattern of:
…then women can try to mitigate these incidents by taking a buddy system/group approach in their daily routine.
Fourth, they could also apply “mother goose” precautions (the latter a colloquial term for “security overwatch”) involving a designated person that keeps track of the group when and where appropriate, like bathroom trips to and from the pool when women might be alone (lifeguards at one Caribbean resort sexually assaulted two women.)
Fifth, immediately leaving a resort when faced with such threat and/or inappropriate behavior by staff or other guests is also sensible (this advice is based on another case study from the Caribbean.)
Sixth, documentation of threat behavior and/or attacks to the fullest extent possible to help with law enforcement investigations and lawsuits is appropriate. Emails and texts to hotel management, hotel security, local law enforcement, one’s home country law enforcement, and even lawyers can help. Hotel guests under threat should avoid antagonizing hotel/resort staff while documenting these issues, however. This is so because, unfortunately — and based on scenarios reported in the press and on travel sites — some (not all) hotel staff will first and foremost seek to protect the reputation and financial standing of the resort and fellow staffers before admitting a rape or sexual assault problem.
*None of these suggestions constitute foolproof security advice.
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