You probably have heard of Pippa Bacca who decided to hitchhike from Italy to the Balkans to the Middle East wearing a white wedding dress, to send a message of peace and “marriage between different peoples and nations.” She was raped and murdered in April 2008 by a driver who offered her a lift in Turkey.
Undeterred by this incident, a British female reporter, Rebecca Lowe, decided to ride a bicycle from London to Tehran in July 2015. Her account was recently published by BBC and Huffington Post. According to her,
My aims were simple: develop enviably shapely calves, survive and shed light on a region long misunderstood by the West.
Mostly, I wanted to show that the bulk of the Middle East is far from the volatile hub of violence and fanaticism people believe. And that a woman could cycle through it safely.
In my opinion, cycling is slightly safer than hitchhiking as you don’t have to rely on strangers all the time. However during the trip Rebecca Lowe was almost raped like Pippa Bacca several times, according to her own account,
In Jordan, Egypt and Iran, I was groped, ogled and propositioned with disappointing regularity.
In Egypt, one randy tuk-tuk driver got his comeuppance following a juicy bum squeeze by being beaten to a pulp by the police convoy on my tail – my horror at their brutality only outdone by my undisguised glee.
In Jordan, a truck driver who’d picked me up following a puncture repeatedly asked for kisses and grabbed my breasts. Fortunately his bravado ceased abruptly at the sight of my penknife wafting ominously close to his crotch.
So it seems that she was provided with a police escort at some places, probably because they did not want a dead reporter on their desks. At some places, she had to do her business outdoors due to a lack of toilets,
Toilets were a serious concern. In the remote gold mining regions of northern Sudan, where few women ventured, there simply weren’t any.
“Look around you,” a man at one roadside shack told me, gesturing to the entirely exposed desert behind him. “The Sahara is your toilet.”
At a party in Tehran, she discovered a very interesting fact from a female lawyer,
The lawyer told me that only around a fifth of the women at the party were likely to be virgins, but the rest were probably having anal sex to preserve their hymen. ‘The men here are among the most open-minded in Iran,’ she said. ‘But underneath they still want their wife to be a virgin.’
But in the end, how did she rate her experience?
So is it safe for a woman to cycle alone across the Middle East? With the right precautions, yes.
Would I let my daughter do it? Absolutely not in a month of Sundays – are you mad?
If you won’t let your daughter do it, then how can it be considered safe at all? There are millions of women and girls living in the Middle East. Should they be all considered safe? These articles serve as a reminder of this strange relationship western media has with Islam and Middle East. They are quick to condemn the slightest slight inflicted on Muslims in the West. But mostly downplay the human rights violations being carried out in Muslim-dominant nations.