On February 22nd, two young women from Argentina, Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni, went missing as they were traveling through the Ruta del Sol in Ecuador. After nearly a week since they were last seen leaving their hostel, the women’s bodies were found on the beach wrapped in plastic bags.
According to the Ecuadorian authorities, two men are guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering the women travelers and have been detained. One of the confessors, who goes by the name Ponce M., said he wanted to assault María José and hit her in the head in order to overpower her, and the blow killed her. The other man, who is called El Rojo, stabbed Marina to death. There has been much speculation regarding the confessions of the suspects. The veracity of the accounts given are still unclear, painting an extremely gruesome and tragic picture of femicide.
After the news of the murdered women broke out, the media and the public began victim blaming Marina and María José. A lot of the blaming centered around why the women for “traveling alone,” despite the fact that they were traveling together and were not alone, and expressed sentiments like “what did they expect?” and shamed their parents for having allowed the women to travel by themselves.
This sparked a huge social media reaction from women defending the murder victims, the most widely shared being an open letter from the point of view of Marina and María José by a Paraguayan college student named Guadalupe Acosta. Numerous solo female travelers have come to the victims’ defense with the hashtag #ViajoSola, which means “I travel alone” in Spanish, in order to assert their right to travel freely and independently as women and as human beings, without fear of attack or murder.
Jetset Times is a platform that is written by and for women travelers, many of whom travel alone, and we strongly defend women’s right to travel throughout the world – just like men do, without having to “expect” that they will be attacked just for doing so. Traveling as a women is not a crime. We stand with Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni and demand justice for their violent murders.
To show our solidarity, the women contributors and partners of Jetset Times share why they travel alone and why they each have the right to do so. Despite the proliferation of solo women travelers in this day and age, it is still incredibly brave for any woman to travel alone without accompaniment or supervision, and we commend all women who commit this act of defiance in a world that is still fraught with femicide and misogyny.
I travel alone because I can; neither because I’m conquering the fear of potential danger, nor because I’m stretching the standards of today’s independent woman. I traverse through the world alone because I’m a curious, adventurous, and reflective human being. More importantly, a woman’s right to explore the globe is equal to that of a man, without distress or the horror of being victimized. I travel alone because I want to, hence I will. Endlessly. (Lagos, Portugal.)
Yo #VIAJOSOLA porque tengo el derecho a viajar y moverme por el mundo sin necesitar la compañía de nadie y sin miedo de morir. I travel alone because I have the right to travel and move through the world without needing anyone else’s company and without fear of dying. Thinking of Maria Menegazzo and María José Coni #NiUnaMenos (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Amanda Rodrigues, Writer/Contributor at Jetset Times
I travel alone because I have the right to look at the world through new eyes without having to look over my shoulder. I travel alone because the world gives us so many reasons to be fearful but so many more reasons to love. I travel alone because, one day, I hope that it is not considered a brave endeavor any more. I hope that both men and women can travel on their own without worrying about who is behind them or what is to come, without feeling unsafe, without wondering if they will get home. Travel should be a joy, not a burden. I travel alone so that we can all travel without barriers. (Lisbon, Portugal.)
Let’s all stand up for women with wanderlust in their souls and a desire to travel freely around the world! (Kerala, India.)
Less than a year ago, I was traveling alone in the exact beach that the Argentine backpackers were found last week. All solo female travelers should have the right to explore the world without fear of danger. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the backpackers. #viajosola (Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia)
Next time you are about to make a negative comment and discourage a woman from traveling alone because you overreact about her safety, think of all of the wonderful things you would be taking from her if you didn’t encourage her to go. Encourage all of your female friends to travel solo, and they too will have broader minds, become more interesting and loving people, and most importantly become strong confident women. And doesn’t this world need more of that? (Rio de Janiero, Brazil)
“Travel far enough you meet yourself.” – David Mitchell
I travel independently because I own my destiny, and I have the freedom and the right to explore all of the wonderful corners of the world and find my place in it. Sending thoughts and prayers to the families of Maria Menegazzo and Maria Jose Coni #Viajosola. (Paris, France)
What do you think regarding a woman’s right to solo travel? Let us know in the comments.