April 22, 2012

Be careful when hitchhiking!

Last week I read shocking news in the newspaper. A young Danish woman asked for a ride  and was raped. It happened in Rio Maior maybe 80km from my town. Although not able to speak Portuguese she asked for help in English at  gas station. She came to Portugal with a group of friends and settled in Oporto. Then the 24 year old woman decided to leave her friends and discover the country by herself. She wanted to get to Lisbon. At Leiria she asked a ride to a  truck driver. Not far from Leiria the truck driver stopped the truck in a desert place and threatened her with a screwdriver and then raped her. In resisting him  she was attacked on the head, forehead and neck. The attacker then dropped her on the roadside. She was clever and took license plate number so the police were able to identify and arrest him.The man lives in Rio Maior and is married. He will be presented to a judge soon and punished.
These situations are infrequent but do happen in Portugal. From time to time one tourist gets in trouble. Please do not facilitate when you visit my country. About three weeks ago three young British teen girls loaded with luggage also wanted to pick up a ride to Leiria city and I gave them the necessary information.It was Sunday and they were next to a park in this city where I live. On Sunday not many traffic goes through that area. If they stayed there they would never be able to get to Leiria! But they were three  not just one. Even when travelling in group my advice is that youngsters must be aware of some risk. A trip from Leiria to Lisbon on public transportation is not so expensive. The bus ticket costs 12 euros. Nothing excuses the behaviour of that trucker driver but the time of careless hitchhiking travelling is gone. Certainly there are countries where it is even considered a dangerous activity. In Portugal this is not the case and most of the times you'll meet good people who will assist you with good will and sympathy. Nevertheless bad encounters can happen, as was the case for this young woman.


Here's some Portugal travel advice! About this issue it reads:


" Sexual assaults are infrequent. Nevertheless, be alert to the possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs, including ‘GHB’ and liquid ecstasy. Purchase your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they cannot be spiked: female travellers should be particularly watchful. Be aware that alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit and remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often much stronger than those in the UK. Avoid splitting up from your friends, and don't go off with people you don't know. See our Rape and Sexual Assault Abroad and Victims of Crime Abroad pages."

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