The most common question I get these days is if I’m worried about my personal safety. The answer has always been “no, I’m a city girl.” And let’s be honest: I am a 6′ tall Amazonian woman who rarely feels physically threatened by others (it has happened, but rare). I am much more concerned for my belongings at night since I am such a heavy sleeper. Ask my husband: now that my son is no longer a baby, NOTHING wakes me up (unless it was the dog having a grand mal seizure; THAT always woke me up). Honestly, the real question is not “will I make it to Santiago?” but rather “will my phone and/or cards make it to Santiago with me?”
But something happened this last weekend on the route that has given me pause.
A 50 year-old woman from Venezuela was kidnapped off the road, raped, then left in an isolated field without any clothing (so she suffered extreme hypothermia as well).
The last time something like this happened on the camino was in 2015 when an American woman was murdered.
OK, I can hear it now. I know what you are going to say. The forums I follow are equally atwitter regarding the violent crime last weekend. I have been reading comments from some lamenting the camino becoming “more dangerous.”
But hold that thought! I spent a few quick minutes doing some crime news research (I’m burned out on working for the night; please don’t judge me).
From what I could find, there was one murder and one reported rape along the camino in the last few years. This is hardly a spike in crime.
There is a higher chance I will be assaulted and/or murdered while going about my usual business in my home city of Seattle.
Don’t believe me?
Jennifer lived about a mile from me in our shared neighborhood of Lake City. Just three weeks ago, a (drugged? deranged? flat-out evil?) 23 year-old male entered her house through an unlocked door, then tortured her, raped her, stabbed her, set her on fire, then robbed her house. I heard the helicopters circling the neighborhood all morning before I knew what had happened.
One mile from my house.
You can learn more about Jennifer and the crime perpetrated against her here, here, and here.
Here are some things to mull over regarding the perceived safety of “staying home”:
- “Overall Seattle, WA crime rate is 61% higher than the Washington average and is 115% higher than the national average. Looking at violent crime specifically, Seattle, WA has a violent crime rate that is 103% higher than the Washington average and 59% higher than the national average.”
- In 2017, there were 27 murders, 231 reported rapes, 1,534 robberies, and 2,477 assaults in Seattle.
- 2017 saw significant increase in gun violence in Seattle.
Of course I will take personal safety seriously while walking solo along the camino, but I will not be afraid. I promise I will buy some pepper spray in one of the cities. I promise I will pay attention to my spidey senses.
I promise that I am at greater risk of stranger danger at home in Seattle than I will be in Spain.
I’m sorry for what happened to you, Jennifer.
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