The Sexual Harassment Office is available to support you even when you are abroad in a work or study placement. Memorial's Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault policy and its accompanying procedures also apply to you when you are working or studying abroad.
Before leaving for your Go Abroad adventure, it's a good idea to do research about cultural norms and acceptable sexual behaviours for the country you will be visiting. It is also important to think about your own comfort level and boundaries when establishing relationships particularly as it relates to verbal, physical and sexual contact. Immersion in another culture does not automatically mean acceptance of practices or behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable or could put your safety at risk.
Along with researching before you leave, as you settle into your host country you can learn a lot by observing the behaviours of the local residents. The social norms of some countries will be similar to what you have experienced in Canada while others will be vastly different. For example, in Germany members of the LBGT communities are widely accepted while in Jamaica the criminal persecution of homosexuality fosters a climate of hostility towards LGBT persons. As another example, in Australia it is common for men to greet each other with a handshake while women will often kiss each other on the cheek.
Consent laws in Canada could be different from the country you are visiting and some cultures are more accepting of casual sexual relationships than others. In some countries gender will make no difference and in others a woman walking on her own is interpreted as an invitation for company, while in other cultures men and women don't interact in public settings. Preparing specifically for the country you will be visiting will help you make informed choices.
Below are some topics to consider amongst your research:
- non-verbal communication (personal space, smiling, eye contact, hugging, etc.)
- gender norms
- gender segregation
It's also important to plan emergency contacts before you leave. It is easier to find these numbers ahead of time while you have a clear frame of mind, as opposed to in moments of stress. If you are travelling to one of Memorial's campuses or institutes you can also consult our Sexual Assault Support and Response Guides customized to each Memorial location.
Should you be in an area where Memorial does not have a campus or institute, contact the Sexual Harassment Office in St. John's for guidance and in the event of an emergency contact local emergency services. The Sexual Harassment Office can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and phone at 709 864 8199. Collect calls are accepted.
Always Ask! Ask yourself. Ask others. Ask us.