#Metoo sign for sexual harassment
Bali Expat Chronicles

Bali Expat Chronicles #4: Sexual Harassment

I debated whether or not to write this post, particularly in light of my last post where I shared some of the best things I love about living in Bali.

In this last post which I published just a few weeks ago, I shared that I had never experienced any sexual advances or harassment in Bali in the 5 years that I have lived here. Well, since that post, I had my ass touched during a jog, my boob grabbed from behind, and a man exposed himself to me yesterday morning just behind my apartment.

Both incidents were in broad daylight in Ubud, and both men were Indonesian.

Since I lived in Sanur over the last 5 years and never experienced anything remotely sexual in nature, I was shocked, disappointed, and dismayed.

I wanted to make sure that other women in the area are aware of these incidents, so I shared my experience in the community forum that I am a member of in Facebook.

The insensitive, narcissistic, cynical comments that came flooding in appalled me more than the harassment itself.

“Why didn’t you take a photo of the men and report it to the police?” – sure, because I always have my camera on while I am jogging, prepared to snap photos of perverted trash of a human being when I happen to encounter one.

“There are always bad apples in every tree” – So should we just accept that obscene behavior is just a bad apple, and should women learn to live with it??

“Next time you should just point at him and laugh” – how does this RESOLVE anything?

Why get in a lather over something all men have got and also how many men just are.” – I just don’t even have the words….

There were many, many more.

If I was disturbed by the experience of being grabbed and flashed, I was even more astounded by the responses to what happened to me.

Victim-blaming is OH. SO. REAL.

Why didn’t I take a photo? Why didn’t I connect with the locals? Why didn’t I report to the police? Why am I drawing attention on social media?


As someone who has been traveling and living in Southeast Asia since 2013, I understand about cultural sensitivity. I would be the first to say that women – especially when traveling solo – should respect and honor the local customs and traditions.

But shouldn’t we demand that degrading and disempowering women is NOT ACCEPTABLE in whatever country, no matter what the circumstances? Does tradition make it ok to continue treating women like property?

I am all about respecting cultures of foreign countries, but aren’t there practices that are just not acceptable?

I don’t have all the answers in this post. But these are the kinds of questions or challenges that we face when traveling, in an effort to understand our boundaries, our presence, and our impact in a foreign land.

For now, I didn’t want the negativity on the FB community to prevent me from continuing to share my experiences.

If I were a solo traveler planning a trip to Bali for the first time, I sure as hell would want to know. So I believe it’s important for me to speak up and inform other Bali travelers about these incidents.

I don’t share this to deter you from traveling to Bali – if you have read any of my many posts on Bali, you know that I absolutely adore this island, and I still do.

But as I do in all my posts, my position is that I provide you with as much information and resources as I can. And it’s always up to YOU to decide what to do with the information I provide, and how much of the information to use for your Bali trip. I hope that you do the same with this post.


  • Colette

    Thank you so much for writing this post. And I’m sorry that people were so insensitive. Online trolling has become an epidemic. I actually just looked up sexual harassment in Bali (as my partner and I are thinking of moving there) and read in a TripAdvisor forum where one post was removed for being offensive, and this other guy said it’s not so bad, that of course you’ll get looks and men offering “company” but it was mere flirtation and all you had to do was (presumably lie) and tell them your boyfriend was waiting at the hotel for you to get rid of them. (I despise men speaking to me in the street and don’t feel I owe that kind of sexual harassment an explanation.) Then he defended the deleted posting and blamed being scantily clad and drinking (tropical climates are freaking hot, you can’t not be scantily clad, and Bali is supposed to be a place to relax and have fun). There is still so much education to be done. : /

  • Mish

    Appreciate the share. Not sure how old this post is but it’s still good to hear. As someone who looks ambiguous (I get “are you Balinese” from tour guides and while in town) getting cat called over clothes I can tell others are wearing the same way was so disconcerting. So while not nice to hear because of what it means about people, it’s nice to know others are voicing these issues.

    • Natalie Hernandez

      Hi, I experienced sexual assault 2 days ago in Bali while riding my scooter home. It was night time and a Balinese man pulled up next to me on his scooter and groped my breast and sped off. Even though this happened in front of my homestay the cameras were unable to capture the incident due to camera angle. I was told that filing a police report may be useless as I wouldn’t be able to provide evidence which made me feel extremely discouraged. I still want to share my story and wondering what the best platform would be to do so. I am also a member of a FB group with members living in Bali. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s important we do not stay quiet about this to help bring awareness to future female solo travelers. Any advice is welcome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *