SADIE WHITELOCKS: My own Bahamas brush with death - and why the rape of two Kentucky moms on vacation is an urgent warning for single women travelers: Beware the Wild West of Airbnbs, cheap flights and false Insta promises of paradise

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The shocking revelation past week from 2 Kentucky moms that they were drugged and raped while vacationing successful nan Bahamas is simply a stark reminder that sometimes nan astir beautiful places connected Earth person much a sinister side.

It's a instruction I learned from a young property – coincidentally, connected a family travel to nan Bahamas.

It was 1998, I was 11 years aged and connected vacation pinch my parents, a family friend and her 2 children.

We recovered a quiet nook distant from nan tourer throngs connected nan nation's celebrated Paradise Beach: endless achromatic sands and palms – literal paradise.

We soon befriended a section man who called himself 'Coconut Joe' because he prepared america caller coconuts to portion each day, slicing them unfastened pinch his elephantine machete. The adults ordered theirs pinch a scatter of rum.

In 1998, I was 11 years aged and went connected vacation pinch my parents, a family friend and her 2 children. We recovered a quiet nook distant from nan tourer throngs connected nan Bahamas' celebrated Paradise Beach: endless achromatic sands and palms – literal paradise. (Pictured: Author Sadie Whitelocks connected a caller travel to nan Caribbean).

We soon befriended a section man who called himself 'Coconut Joe' because he prepared america caller coconuts to portion each day, slicing them unfastened pinch his elephantine machete. The adults ordered theirs pinch a scatter of rum. (Pictured: Sadie, apical middle, successful 1998).

(Pictured: A mini formation connected Shroud Cay land successful nan Bahamas.)

On returning location however, we saw a worrying news headline: 2 British women had been recovered murdered connected nan nonstop aforesaid agelong of beach.

I retrieve my parents joking – nervously – that Coconut Joe and his machete had been involved.

Despite being young, I felt profoundly unnerved by nan incident: Had we naively put ourselves successful harm's way?

It is simply a representation that has stuck pinch maine and – arsenic personification who has now visited complete 75 countries and built a profession arsenic a recreation journalist – still serves arsenic a reminder that overseas recreation comes pinch its risks, particularly for azygous women.

My fearfulness now is that – arsenic inexpensive aerial fares, 'all-inclusive' packages and societal media make nan world ever much accessible and smaller – Western women are being fixed a mendacious belief that nan far-flung destinations they're visiting person besides moved pinch nan times.

That because you tin pitchy to nan Caribbean from New York City successful nan little clip that it takes to scope California, these sunny climes person nan aforesaid values, laws and information measures arsenic your hometown.

It's easy to spot really it happens – to place nan disfigured 'realities' of a place.

Capture nan dreamy sunsets for Instagram, not nan slums. Pose successful nan five-star infinity pool, skip nan litter-strewn beaches. Report backmost to friends connected nan champion section cuisine, not nan emergence successful rapes.

The 'reality' of nan Bahamas is dark. Over 10 percent of nan organization lives successful poverty. The system ranks 160th successful nan world – beneath Sierra Leone, South Sudan and nan Congo. Gang crime is simply a peculiar problem.

In caller weeks, nan U.S. State Department has issued warnings for travelers to 'exercise accrued caution' on nan islands owed to accelerated rising rates of homicide, equipped robbery and intersexual assault.

There person been 18 murders successful Nassau – nan superior – since nan commencement of this twelvemonth alone.

Dongayla Dobson and Amber Shearer, some 31-year-old mothers from Kentucky, opportunity that they were drugged and raped by unit members astatine Pirate's Cove formation edifice on Grand Island earlier this month.

They declare uniformed men gave them spiked cocktails earlier attacking them. Two men person been arrested by Bahamian police.

Dobson and Shearer opportunity location were 'not aware' of immoderate caller recreation warnings – and I tin understand why. After all, who bothers checking authorities warnings for well-trodden destinations for illustration nan Bahamas, which is visited by 8 cardinal visitors each year?

Dongayla Dobson (left) and Amber Shearer (right), some 31-year-old mothers from Kentucky, opportunity that they were drugged and raped by unit members astatine Pirate's Cove formation edifice connected Grand Island earlier this month.

They declare uniformed men gave them spiked cocktails earlier attacking them. Two men person been arrested by Bahamian police.

Sadly, theirs is not a uncommon fate.

Last month, nan authorities besides upped nan recreation 'alert' standing for Jamaica to 'level 3' – meaning Americans should now actively reconsider visiting 'due to crime and [unreliable] aesculapian services'.

One peculiarly concerning transition of proposal published by nan U.S. Embassy successful Jamaica stated that 'sexual assaults hap frequently, including astatine all-inclusive resorts,' adding that section constabulary 'often do not respond effectively.'

Over successful Mexico's glitzy Tulum connected Friday, a 44-year-old female from Los Angeles was caught successful nan crossfire betwixt 2 supplier gangs and changeable dead while she relaxed astatine sunset astatine nan Mia Beach Club edifice wherever nan edifice serves $150 Tomahawk steaks.

Of course, distant and 'untouched' – aka underdeveloped – destinations person ever travel pinch their dangers. And petty criminals person agelong preyed connected naïve tourists.

But, anecdotally astatine least, it seems that nan number and severity of crimes successful apical vacation destinations are rising – and my conjecture would beryllium that it has much than a small to do pinch nan progressively lax cognition of Western travelers.

Gone are nan days of money belts hidden distant wrong your shorts aliases savvy recreation agents who fastidiously scheme your way up of time.

The proliferation of Airbnb, Uber and 'no fee' world in installments cards person put paid to nan request to transportation wads of cash, aliases only travel recommendations from friends and professionals erstwhile booking places to stay.

Travel is simply a wonderful, world-expanding thing. But we whitethorn person each collectively fto our defender down. Re-finding a consciousness of heightened precaution erstwhile overseas tin only beryllium a bully thing.