I have recently been notified of a rape case happened in the UK after a Hong Kong 29 years old woman used Couchsurfing to stay with someone in Leeds. You can read the story here. This is something that was bound to happen, at some point, and without getting into too many details of what’s right or wrong, let’s wait and see until the trial is over. I’d like to consider a few things about security when traveling and Couchsurfing, tough.
I think CS is an amazing way to travel meeting new friends, experiencing the culture, and also saving money. I didn’t really feel traveling might have been this good and mind opening before I actually started couchsurfing during my first trip of China in january 2008. I have to say that, being used to play shows in a punk band, I was couchsurfing way before the whole idea even existed, crashing on musicians’ floors, beds, mats, car seats, but that of course is part of the independent music scene, so this wasn’t that “new” to me…
The fact someone decided to create a container where the whole world might be considered as a “scene” totally improved the way you can access travel. I’ve been staying with so many people, of both gender, and NEVER experienced trouble, whatsoever. In places like Malaysia and Indonesia, on the other hand, the whole experience of CS improved my perception of things, and made me able to meet people today I call friends, and whenever I go back to their towns, it’s like I had a family there. Probably because I am a male, I never experienced trouble whatsoever. But I’ve been staying with girls as well and… no problems at all, you just have to be a decent human being. Then, if chemistry happens, just good on you!!
The whole “CS and dating” thing is not an issue, for me. I met my current girlfriend Kit trough a CS meeting, and I am happy we have that common hospitality ground to share. I understand that being a solo woman traveler might put you under different circumstances, but this random episode should not become a security issue. Reading between the lines, I don’t even know if this whole thing has been set up to discredit the CS way of life. Because that’s what it is, for my experience, for I’ve met so many people that really are living for it, sometimes they almost cross the line of duty.
So… I can just say, keep on traveling, and keep your wits to yourself. Strangers can be dangerous, but they can also turn into some of your new best friends. Maybe next time I couchsurf I’ll get someone to stab me in the eye, but so far, I’ve been the craziest one in my meetings. And I brought fun and excitement into my hosts houses… again, I want to invite you to click on the CS link on the right sidebar to check my references, and please believe me, they’re all left by true people. I really had some nice times, with everyone. And honestly, I can’t find a better way to have fun when I get to a new city, to better understand how it works, and how its people live.
My sympathy goes to this poor woman of course, and I wish this episode won’t replicate, but don’t freak out because shit happens every day, everywhere, and in 99% of the cases, the people wanting to host you are just genuinely interested in hearing your stories… then, sex drives human impulses, and we all know that, and we also know that human beings (because just saying men would be damn wrong) are unpredictable creatures… but again in the first place, traveling is an adventure, and every adventure might turn into a nightmare.
I just doubt if a man lured into a “sex trap” by a CS woman would go into court claiming he’d been “raped by a woman” people would care… am I wrong?