We’ve seen an alarming number of stories about sex attacks on female travellers in recent weeks, from a Swiss tourist who was gang-raped in India to an American student who was raped on a van in Rio de Janeiro.
It doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t visit foreign places or that no parts of those countries are safe. But women travelling in these areas should do so with extreme caution and a knowledge of the culture.
We rounded up eight popular tourist destinations where women should be extra cautious, based on reports from Human Rights Watch, the State Department, and crime reports in the media.
From the Taj Mahal to river boat cruises, India's tourism industry generates $17.7 billion each year.
But the recent gang rapes of a Swiss tourist and a New Delhi student, and a British tourist jumping from her window for fear of being raped have caused tourism to drop 35 per cent since December.
And Human Rights Watch writes that reports of violence against women have been increasing, and 'the government had yet to properly investigate and prosecute sexual abuse in police custody.'
Rio de Janeiro is billed as the most popular tourist destination in the Southern Hemisphere, but women should be on alert after an American tourist was raped in a van while her French boyfriend was handcuffed, AP reports.
The three suspects were arrested, but Brazil is known for its a machismo culture and history of gender-based violence, according to Human Rights Watch.
It will be hosting next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Tourists in Turkey largely flock to historical sites in Istanbul or the country's gorgeous seaside resorts.
But violence against women is a major problem in Turkey. The State Department reports that the Embassy and Consulates have received numerous reports of crimes against women, particularly incidents involving 'date rape' drugs.
The police and courts also have a bad track record with helping women who have applied for protection orders against their attackers, according to Human Rights Watch.
And an American woman travelling alone in Istanbul was killed in February.
Tourism in Egypt makes up 20 per cent of the country's foreign currency, but the number of tourists visiting Egypt's ruins has been significantly dropping.
This is partly due to the rise in crime after the January 25, 2011 revolution, but also due to the systematic sexual harassment and assault of unaccompanied women and girls in the streets, according to The New York Times.
Last June mobs attacked and sexually assaulted at least six Egyptian and foreign women in Cairo's Tahrir square, and a Cairo-based journalist recently recounted her harrowing story of being stripped and almost raped in a mob.
Colombia's tourism industry has been growing recently after many years of tourists avoiding the civil conflict-torn country.
But violence against women and girls remains widespread in Colombia (especially for displaced women), and authorities have a bad track record for enforcing the laws and protocols that are in place to protect women, according to the Human Rights Watch.
Perpetrators of sexual assault are also rarely brought to justice in Colombia.
Guatemala is filled with picturesque cities like Antigua and Panachajel, and about 15 per cent of its working population is involved in tourism of some kind.
But Guatemala's legal system is hard-pressed to control all of the gang-related and drug-related crimes in the country. And that goes triple for crimes against women.
Rape and sexual assault increased by 34 per cent from 2008 to 2011, yet only 1 in 10 of those cases ever brought the perpetrators to justice, according to Human Rights Watch.
Millions of Americans travel safely in Mexico to visit its resorts and major cities each year, and the Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens, the State Department says.
But the criminal justice system often fails to protect victims of violent crimes, particularly women and girls, due to inadequate training and corruption, according to Human Rights Watch.
There are also provisions in the law that make sexual offenses contingent on the 'chastity' of the victim, and women who report their sexual assault are regularly met with disrespect and suspicion by the authorities.
Visiting Kenya has become extremely popular due to its wildlife and safari tours.
But women travelling in Kenya outside of the country's traditional tourist areas should take safety precautions, particularly on the island of Lamu where The State Department has released a warning after US citizens were sexually assaulted and threatened with kidnapping.
And the United Nations Development Fund for Women recently released a report saying that 'women of all ages, education levels and social groups, in rural and urban settings are subjected to violence in Kenya.'
NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.