British Diplomat Murdered in Beirut and Travel Risks
20 Dec 2017
The body of British diplomat Rebecca Dykes was found on the side of a motorway on the morning of 16 December 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon. Reports from Lebanon claimed that she had been strangled and sexually assaulted; reports also suggest she had died at about 0400 local time on the 16 December. Her body was found on the Metn Highway which leads out of Beirut towards to the north-eastern suburbs of the city.
- A British diplomat was found murdered on 16 December 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon.
- Lebanese police have arrested an Uber driver on suspicion of her murder.
- This event serves as a reminder of the dangers of solo travel, especially for female travellers.
Crime: The body of British diplomat Rebecca Dykes was found on the side of a motorway on the morning of 16 December 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon. Reports from Lebanon claimed that she had been strangled and sexually assaulted; reports also suggest she had died at about 0400 local time on the 16 December. Her body was found on the Metn Highway which leads out of Beirut towards to the north-eastern suburbs of the city.
It is believed that Rebecca Dykes had spent the evening at a party at a café in Gemmayze, an area of Beirut populated with bars and restaurants. Reports suggest that she ordered an Uber taxi after leaving the party and that it was the driver who eventually killed her; the driver has pleaded guilty to the murder according to media sources. This attack will raise questions about the security of the Uber car service and transport which has not been prearranged (especially considering the driver is believed to have a previous criminal record). It will also raise questions about precautions solo, and especially female, travellers should take in more hostile or security-challenged locations. Police have reported that the murder is not thought to have been politically motivated.
Lone travellers generally can be under more threat than those who travel in groups; the fact is that females face different challenges and will be treated differently in many countries. Keep in mind that, in some countries crimes against women are not taken seriously and you can expect little help from the police. There are general rules which should be employed by lone female travellers (and should be considered by all travellers).
Always give your property up if confronted â be compliant. Do not dress in an expensive way â leave necklaces, bracelets, diamond rings, and watches at home. Dress conservatively â be especially mindful of the cultural rules for the country you are in â be particularly careful on religious days. Do not carry an expensive handbag. Carry your handbag over your shoulder on the opposite side to the road. However, be aware that the bag may be grabbed from a doorway. Remember that suspects often walk past their victims and then approach from the rear to make the attack. Do not walk around looking like a tourist. Especially try and avoid walking around with a large map out.Â If you have to use a map, fold it up really small so that the section, you need to see can fit inside your hand. Do not display or use your mobile phone (except in an emergency) when walking along. It is a magnet to criminals and if speaking on it removes your sense of situational awareness.
If taking a taxi:
Tell the driver you are on the way to meet someone, so that they know that if you are delayed in arriving there could be a problem. Always sit in the back seat of a taxi, preferably behind the driver. Try and avoid eye contact with the driver in their rear-view mirror, position yourself so that you are out of his sight. If you feel uneasy in the taxi take a photograph of their licence (if on display) with your phone and send it to your ‘husband’, tell the driver your husband insists you always do this in taxis. Always avoid shared taxis, they are very common in some countries.Â Tell the driver to give you a price for the journey before you set off and get him to agree you will be the only passenger.
If taking a bus or train:
Sit near/with other women. In some countries there are women only carriages, check if there is one on your train and use it.
Always be in Control
It is hard to make sure you are always in control if you have drunk too much, always drink in moderation when travelling. This includes if you are with other people that you may be familiar with.
If you are drinking, keep control of your glass. Drugging of drinks is becoming more common around the world. If you have lost sight of your drink or it has been out of your control, then do not drink it. Just get another one.
If you are going to be attacked…
You must do something. Think about what you might do, as many people when attacked freeze. Not doing anything is normal but it is known that if you have thought about what you would do before it happens, you are more likely to respond quickly. People react differently in stressful situations and those that defend themselves and act quickly are not always the large men. We must point out that everything should be done to avoid conflict.
Be passive, be compliant, give up your belongings but if you get to the point you know you are going to be attacked, act quickly – do any/all of these:
Shout â attract attention â scream for help. That might be enough to drive an attacker away, especially if there are lots of other people around.
If you are grabbed, fight fast and hard to get away and importantly, show no mercy. Aim for the attacker’s vulnerable spots: Eyes, Throat, Testicles, Shins/Feet
When you break free, run towards people/shops/banks, or anywhere you can get some help.
For travel to Beirut, Solace Global would advise clients to employ enhanced security measures, undertaking careful journey management planning. For all travellers, we would advise that the minimum level of security should be a pre-arranged security trained driver for all journeys. For certain travellers, such as high net worth individuals, it may also be advisable to employ a close protection officer. Travellers should also use a travel tracking system with an integrated intelligence feed, to allow employers to effectively execute duty of care, and permit the traveller to remain up to date with potential threats.
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