‘As long as you don’t go out at night, you’ll be safe’ ‘It is dangerous to walk the streets after it gets dark’ ‘Stay in after the sun sets and it’ll be fine’
All sentences I’ve heard regarding my upcoming trips abroad. The first destination in Kenya, after Cape Town the most dangerous capital of Africa. This says enough about its safety and since I’m also a ‘mzungu’ (white person), it is not wise to walk the streets in the dark and maybe not even when its light in some neighborhoods. After Kenya, I will spend a school semester abroad in Palermo, Italy. Now you might think ‘Italy, well this is a western country, so this must be a safe place to go’. Well, think again. Apparently, Palermo is quite rough around the edges and getting robbed is as normal there as getting Italian gelato. When mentioning the semester abroad to a local girl there, she told the other students going there and me to at least search for an apartment in the city centre. ‘You cannot go to the campus dorms that are located a few miles outside the city after dark, it is too risky’ she said. The Italian mafia is still going strong in Sicily and while as a normal citizen you won’t notice much, it is giving me a weird, unsafe feeling nonetheless.
When I was walking home from my parents house to the train to get to my place, it occurred to me how underrated safety is in the Netherlands. Sure, you are never safe. Any place you go, whether it is a small town in the Netherlands or New York City, bad things happen and the wrong people walk the streets. And with the current events, terrible things happen close to home. But here, in my home town, no one even thinks about not going out because of the dark.
I guess this post does not have an actual story, punchline or moral message. Maybe just some food for thought: do we take safety for granted in places such as the Netherlands? Or is no place really safe?