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Many Tourists Suffer Sexual Harassment in Southern Europe, Study

Update Date: Jun 24, 2013 03:53 PM EDT

Ladies, if you're going to be spending your summer holiday on the beaches of southern Europe, make sure you bring pepper spray- or at least a one-piece swimsuit.

A 2009 survey of more than 6,000 people in various airports in Mediterranean counties revealed that one in ten female English or German tourists has suffered sexual harassment while on holiday in southern Europe.

The survey found that women weren't the only ones being sexually harassed.  The study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that at least one in 15 males surveyed reported being sexually harassed while visiting southern Europe.

Lead researcher Amador Calafat from the European Insitute of Studies on Prevention (Irefrea) surveyed 6,502 people in different airports across southern Europe (Crete, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain). The people surveyed were between the ages of 16 and 35 who had visited tourist hotspots in summer 2009 and were returning home. The point of the study was to discover the levels of sexual harassment and sex of tourists vacationing in southern Europe.

 "In this article we have gone into detail with a broad sample on an issue that receives little attention in tourist environments: sexual harassment and sex against one's will. Research was conducted on English and German tourists because they are the most frequent visitors to southern Europe and it is easier to obtain results," Calafat said in a news release.

Researchers found that 8.6 percent of people suffered sexual harassment during their holidays and 1.5 percent suffered sex against their will.

"2.4 times as many women as heterosexual men claimed to have suffered from sexual harassment. However, gay and bisexual men showed similar levels to women and high levels of sex against their will," Calafat noted.

In the study, researchers also applied different variable to predict the risk of falling victim to one of the two behaviors studied.

"With regard to sexual harassment, those who claimed to have suffered these practices the most were tourists who were visiting Mallorca and Crete, young, British, gay or bisexual, frequent drinkers or attracted to bars where people get drunk, or cocaine consumers," Calafat explained. "We're not talking about casual sex, but rather issues that show a correlation, so we must continue researching."

"The first preventive measure is to be aware that these problems exist, since we tend to always think positively about holidays. There are measures that depend on tourist destinations, which are often promoted as places with a high level of sexual permissiveness and advertise cheap alcohol. The venues themselves can also avoid these situations by adopting good management in accordance with already established standards," he concluded.

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