Argentina’s men have a reputation for freely expressing their appreciation for women passing by on the street and as being charming devils who will say anything to get what they want, but it is much more likely that a single female traveler will suffer minor harassment in public places— or petty theft— than an outright sexual assault.
Sexual assault statistics are notoriously unreliable but they can offer some insight. The latest in-depth study conducted by World Health Organization, in 2002, concluded that out of a random sample of 1,000 women in Buenos Aires, 5.8% of women had been sexually assaulted in the previous five years. This number is on par, or slightly lower, than many first world nations.
Of course there are crazy people all over the world so it is important for women traveling alone to take extra precautions.
Attire: Beware of Heels
The more modestly you dress the less attention you will receive thanks to your divine femininity —this is certainly true in Argentina. Buenos Aires and other major Argentine cities are filled with sexy, smart looking women but there is a very attuned distinction between looking ‘sexy and confident’ and ‘trampy and desperate’. Do yourself and your countrywomen a favor – if you are woman who places importance on your appearance, try to fall in the first category. As always, the less conspicuous you are the fewer problems you will experience.
If you’re going out at night in high heels or a saucy dress, make sure your date accompanies you door to door, as is custom in Argentina. If not, depending on how safe you feel in your neighborhood, consider calling a taxi or remis to get you safely to your location. This is logical for another reason — with the sidewalks in such a state of disrepair in most parts of Buenos Aires and other parts of the country, sexy shoes make you vulnerable to breaking a heel or doing a face-dive, particularly in stilettos.
Don’t Flash the Bling!
While some safety travel guides advice single women to wear a wedding ring while on the road to avoid harassment, we advice exactly the opposite in Argentina. The reason is twofold: firstly, a wedding ring will not dissuade a great many Argentine man from approaching you, secondly your beautiful ring could make you a target for theft.
In Argentina women usually receive a simple gold band by their husband when they marry. If you have a diamond wedding ring you will be instantly recognized as a foreigner and be more vulnerable to robbery. If you’re married, and traveling alone or not, consider removing your wedding ring while traveling in Argentina. Surely you’re darling hubby who gave you that shiny rock will understand that wearing that beautiful ring, particularly on the streets of Buenos Aires, is a danger.
Although it is not recommended to travel with any expensive jewelry, if you are headed to an event that absolutely calls for dressing up and you have an pricey piece of jewelry you want to wear, consider traveling with it in your purse. Once at the event head straight to the ladies room to put it on.
To protect oneself against street theft, particularly in Buenos Aires, use an over the shoulder bag that can be wrapped around the body instead of a handbag or purse. Those that close with zippers and have flap that go over the zipper like a messenger bag are a good option, and are sold very cheaply in the Once neighborhood. Keep your money in the inner most bowels of your purse, or better yet in your front pocket or somewhere else close to your body to prevent being pick- pocketed. Some people swear by money belts, worn on the interior of your clothing. Others say that thin nylon pouches are awkward, give the impression that you are carrying tons of cash, and that the straps can easily be cut. They are somewhat extreme and rather conspicuous if spotted, but they can occasionally be useful if you have to carry a lot of cash for making a major purchase.
During the day, in higher-class neighborhoods such as Palermo there are sometimes drive by robberies -– two guys come by on a motorcycle and just grab the purse off of someone’s shoulder and keep going. Obviously this crime is virtually impossible to pull off if you’re wearing an over the shoulder bag.