Rape in Cape Town?
June 25, 2011 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Single young woman living alone in Cape Town?

I know this is somewhat similar to previous threads on Cape Town and safety, but here are my special snowflake details:

Trying to decide on some study abroad places and U Cape Town is at the top of the list. After extensive reading online, I'm even more confused about my safety.

--white woman in her early 30s (light hair, light eyes, petite)
--probably living alone, probably living near students or in a relatively inexpensive area (or in a dorm? Maybe?)
--don't drink or use drugs
--not planning on having a relationship or sex (casual or otherwise) with anyone
--used to living in moderately-size cities with moderately low crime
--have lived in larger cities (Boston, New York)
--have lived abroad
--likely won't be driving and when I do, I will be with hosts from my organization (a large, international business group)

The big question is about rape and criminal assault. How likely is this (specifically rape) considering the above circumstances? Additionally, if anyone has personal experience traveling or living in CT, what was the level of fear you felt on a daily basis?
posted by mrfuga0 to Travel & Transportation around Cape Town, South Africa (3 answers total)
I lived there for several months when I was 20. I've been back several times since then, always on my own. I'm also white/blonde/blue eyes.

I never felt unsafe but I also didn't do a lot of walking at night or in secluded areas. The stastics say that violent crime is a distinct possibility, but I think that if you're smart about who/where/when, you'll be fine.

UCT is beautiful and Cape Town is, hands down, the most wonderful place I've ever been. Memail me is you want to talk about it further because I'll do anything to convince you to have a go and take the chance. I *love* South Africa.

Also: send me a new UCT sweatshirt when you get there. Mine is falling apart. :-)
posted by guster4lovers at 7:54 PM on June 25, 2011

Unrelated encouragement: UCT is lovely and Cape Town is an awesome place to be a foreign student (actually IMHO most of SA is pretty amazing, make sure you get out of the Western Cape). I live on the East Coast in SA right now after going an exchange four years ago in Gauteng. You can also MeMail me.

My feeling of fear when I visit CT, most recently a couple of weeks ago, is pretty low, especially compared with any of the other metros. It has even improved in the past four years, which I wouldn't say is true of the rest of SA. I had no problem spending a Saturday cruising Long Street, St. George's Square and the Cape Quarter on my own on foot. That you have lived abroad an in bigger cities is helpful. If you have been to any countries with significant wealth gaps (Brazil, Mexico...) you should be aware of how being wealthy in a place where a large part of the population lives in pretty bad circumstances and is increasingly young can increase crime.

If you can accept some things, you will be *pretty* safe here. First, you should not go out after dark alone. I have seen young women walking alone from sidestreets and transport to meet people in Observatory (student neighbourhood near UCT) but I would just make another choice. Second, you will probably feel a lot better if you don't live alone-alone. I am actually hard pressed to come up with any young women from my socio economic background that I hang out with who live alone - popular choices are suites attached to a main house or shared accomodation, some live permanently in B&Bs (or even backpackers). If I had the choice, I would elect to live with South Africans instead of foreigners as I have found in my experience that foreigners can be unexpectedly cavalier about security common sense (ex. closing windows, locking the security gates). For various reasons, I'd probably skip the dorms.
posted by skermunkil at 3:36 AM on June 26, 2011

Current (male) Capetonian here. You'll be pretty safe at night if you stick to well known areas with people around.
posted by PenDevil at 8:46 AM on June 26, 2011

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