The Sexual Harassment Policy and accompanying University Wide Procedures for Sexual Harassment concerns and complaints applies while you are abroad and the office is available to support you.
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 also learn a lot by observing the behaviours of the local residents. Some countries' social norms will be similar to what you have experienced in Canada, 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 me 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 your area.
Always Ask! Ask yourself. Ask others. Ask us.