“Is is Safe for Women to Travel in Ethiopia?”
We have done some research, since Pat and I are an old married couple.
But talking with our local partner, they tell us it’s safe for women but you’ll get some pretty creative pick up attempts, not unlike what you’d see in many nations outside of Europe.
Now like any where else in the world there are always unspoken “rules” of etiquette and what is considered to be proper behavior and Ethiopia is no different.
The Ethiopians are an conservative people, so the best advice we can offer is be aware of the “signals” your clothing or actions may be innocently giving off.
Here are some examples we picked up:
Wear clothes that cover your shoulders, and knees. While you don’t have to cover your hair, wearing a light but long sleeve jacket/sweater in the evening keeps out the cool night air and unwanted attention.
Except for some the of the more trendy and wealthier areas in Addis Ababa, no “proper” woman is be seen in a bar.
While home-brewed alcoholic drinks have often been made by women, it was the men who typically said who can drink, how much and when. So Ethiopian men may naturally wonder about your motives for coming in a bar for a beer, particularly if you’re alone. Go out with other travelers if you can.
Accepting an invitation to an unmarried man’s house, under any pretext, is considered a latent acceptance of things to come.
Be aware that “respectable” Ethiopian women (even when they’re willing) are expected to put up a show of coyness and modesty as part of the wedding and bedding.
Some Ethiopian cultures even expect her to put up a “fierce struggle” before giving in. This means that to some Ethiopian men, no really does NOT mean no but is a sign of encouragement. So if you really mean no, make it very, very clear from the start.
If you want to avoid, unwanted attention, keep out of the hotel or local bars, dress conservatively and try to meet up with other travelers or your driver/guide if you want to go out late.