Travel Safety, Sexual Assault and Couchsurfing.org
This investigative story in The Guardian about an Italian policeman who became a Couchsurfing host as a way to drug and rape female travelers raises some troubling issues about the rise in unregulated travel accommodations aimed at budget travelers. Although it is true that women travelers can be victimized in hotels and b&bs, the ability of solo operators to gain access to online sites and lure victims poses special risks.
Two of the most important lessons the article imparts are (1) the risks in accept drinks from people who are not your friends while traveling and (b) that traveling in groups is not a fail-safe protection from a determined rapist.
While nobody likes to hear negative stories about travel, or scare women unduly (I travel alone a great deal), this is still information travelers should have about unregulated accommodations and safety.