I take those travel advisories with a salt of grain, they are often quite alarmist. Any place where you might get mugged at night will get mentioned as potentially unsafe and if you're unaware of how likely this is in your own country, any country may quickly sound dangerous in comparison.
I remember that during the world cup the US put out an advisory saying that the eastern part of Germany was unsafe and should be avoided because of the high abundance of neonazis and skinheads looking for foreigners to beat up. That caused quite an uproar in Germany, obviously, because we do not make a habit out of beating people up. ;) IIRC the advisory was pulled again at some point.
Just out of curiosity, I went over the travel advisory for Germany from the US again and you can still see some items that sound quite alarming:
U.S. citizens should exercise caution when congregating in areas known as expatriate hangouts such as restaurants, bars, and discos frequented by high numbers of resident U.S. citizens and/or U.S. citizen tourists. In addition, hooligans, most often drunken skinheads, have been known to harass or even attack people whom they believe to be foreigners or members of rival groups.
Nonetheless, these demonstrations can attract counter-demonstrations and have the potential to turn violent. Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations and check local media for updates on the situation and traffic advisories.
These statements are true, of course, we're not an ever peaceful nation, but need to be seen for what they are..
In any city the "tourist hot spots" are well visited by pickpockets, thieves and robbers, because tourists tend to cary a lot of money around with them. It's more rewarding to rob them than to rob locals which may only have 20 bucks on them because they have an ATM on every corner. So for me the first sentence is somewhat self-evident.
It is a sad fact that people get harassed because of their skin color or their origins. However, again, I can not say I'm witnissing this more often in Germany than elsewhere. I've seen it happen in France, Switzerland, Spain and also in the US. It's sad, it's stupid but it wouldn't be a reason to disregard a country for a visit.
Regarding violent protest: If you decide to go to one of the hot spots where facists and communists try to attack each other and 2000 police men are present to keep them apart, you will likely be hit by a waterhose from the police at some point. Pepperspray and such are also not unheard of. But the last time someone died in a riot or demonstration in Germany was in the 1980ies and it was more of a car-accident on the side of the demonstration. Those were truly different times though, if things were still the same as they were in the 80ies, I would recommend staying away from protests. >.>
Also that this one got a mention cracked me up:
Contrary to popular belief, there are posted speed limits on large stretches of the highway, or Autobahn, mostly when traveling through urban areas or when the road has many curves.
When I went to Peru I read a lot of travel advisories and tips. It was my first solo-voyage, it was my first time in south america, it was my first long trip and the more I read, the more scared I got. The day before leaving part of me was considering dropping everything and canceling the trip because there's terrorism, sexual harrassment, theft and what not in Peru. I didn't, mostly because I didn't want to face the ridicule of my friends.
Once I got there, I got a better idea of what each of these warnings meant. Yes, there is theft and robbery and some of it is a lot more brutal than what we have here in Germany, but it's not a daily occurrence. You have to be very unlucky to be robbed and you can get unlucky anywhere. Yes there is terrorism, but you really need to go out of your way and search for it. Chances that you're running into it accidentally are very slim, as the terrorists are hidden high away in the uninhabited parts of the Andes. When it comes to sexual harrassment, I must say I have no idea what they were refering too, I had no issues whatsoever when it came to this. I did, however, follow the advisory to cover up my skin (it was freezing and even snowed at one point.. covering up was necessary either way) and had my hair in a bun (thing of habit really.. I rarely wear it in any other form). I talked to other people saying that they had had guys approaching them and harrassing them in the major cities.
All in all, I must say, I was blown away by the friendliness and care I got from random strangers in Peru and that I had an awesome time without ever feeling unsafe. It was one of the best times in my life. (No, I'm not paid by the Peruvian tourism board, I swear. ;p)
Bottom line: Read the advisories, prepare for the worst, but don't let them scare you. Millions of tourists return home unharmed from their trip every day.
There has been lots of attention on group rapes in india lately after a poor girl was raped to death on a public bus. Shortly thereafter a middle-aged swiss couple was abducted in a parc and the woman raped repeatedly as well. Rape is the fastest growing crime in India.
I can handle being mugged and robbed and even threatened. Those will normally end in the loss of some wordly possessions and a bruised ego. I do not want to have to handle rape.
Edited by myrti, 16 August 2013 - 05:21 AM.