Foreign women will likely find themselves the object of a certain amount of unwanted attention while traveling in Honduras . Honduran men tend to view women as either pure, chaste mother figures or as objects of sexual attention. Due in part to representations of women in western media, most foreigners are viewed as the latter.
One way to cope with the situation is to dress and act conservatively. Tank tops, short skirts, and other skimpy garments do not help in this regard, though certainly on the north coast beach towns and in the Bay Islands , these are accepted.
If you are not looking for male attention, avoid looking men in the eye—this is considered an invitation for the man to introduce himself and try to pick you up. Whether you handle forward men rudely or try to ignore them is up to you. As a general rule, the more you talk to them (regardless of what it is you’re actually saying!), the more encouraged they will be.
The flip side is that Honduran men have an ingrained consideration toward women and will often go to ridiculous lengths to do a favor for a lady. Since you have to put up with the bad side of machismo all the time, it seems perfectly legitimate to make use of its chivalrous tendencies when appropriate.
While men are often annoyingly persistent and need to be clearly told to go away, rarely are they actually dangerous. Nonetheless, rape is certainly an issue to keep in mind in Honduras , as in any country. The north coast beach towns are particularly dangerous spots. Women are better off going to discos in male company or at least in a group of women. Cantinas are exclusively the domain of men, as are pool halls, although shooting some pool with a co-ed group of friends in the afternoon shouldn’t bring you any trouble.
Of course, plenty of female travelers may, in fact, be very attracted to Honduran men. In which case, you will not have a difficult time at all finding a guy to spend time with. But (at the risk of sounding alarmist) be aware that AIDS is a serious problem in Honduras, so bring condoms and be prepared to do some convincing to make Honduran men use them. UNAIDS considers Honduras to have a generalized epidemic on the north coast, concentrated in certain populations—men who have sex with men, sex workers, prisoners, and the Garífuna—that have prevalence rates of greater than 5 percent.
Should you fall victim to an assault or rape in Honduras, you cannot expect a great deal of sympathy or help from the police. Services like counseling and special health care for rape victims are nonexistent. The best bet for medical help is to go to one of the better private hospitals (not the government hospitals or the small clinics) in the cities of Tegucigalpa , San Pedro Sula , or La Ceiba . For legal help, contact your embassy in Tegucigalpa or consulate in San Pedro Sula.
On a more positive note, female travelers will, if they make the effort, find wonderful opportunities to get to know the many strong, worldly wise matrons who sometimes seem like the most sensible people in the country. And because women travelers seem less threatening than men, Hondurans of both sexes frequently open up more to them. With a little looking around, interested travelers will find hundreds of grassroots social organizations that, if not strictly feminist, are run mainly by women.