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Travel Safety, Sexual Assault & Couchsurfing.org

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This investigative story in The Guardian about an Italian policeman who became a Couchsurfing host as a way to drug and rape female travelers raises some warning flags about the rise in unregulated travel accommodations aimed at budget travelers, who are more likely to be young.

Although it is true that women travelers can be victimized in standard hotels and b&bs, the ability of solo operators and psychos to gain access to online sites and lure victims poses new risks that people giving advice should think about.

Two of the most important lessons the article imparts are (1) there can be danger in accepting drinks and food from hosts you don't really know and (b) that traveling in groups can give women a false sense of security when they should stay on the alert for possibly dangerous operators.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/06/italian-allegedly-used-couchsurfing-website-to-assault-women

While travel enthusiasts don't like to hear negative stories about travel, perhaps especially if they contradict their own positive experiences, and women needn't be deterred from traveling and seeking adventure by the existence of a few crazies, this is information about new developments in travel that all budget travelers should have.

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