India is one of the most unsafe countries for women to reside in. The number of rape cases in our country is shocking and eve teasing is considered almost normal. The administration is lax, which is why I suggest that the best way to stay safe in India is to take matters into your own hands. Here are ten tips on how to stay safe in India–
10- Dress Safe
Our country is a conservative one. Sad as it may be, women are denied the right to dress according to their wishes. I am in no way advocating the school of thought which says women should be covered up from head to toe to stay safe. I feel it is foolish that women have to cover themselves up before stepping out of the house because some men cannot keep themselves from leching. Hard reality remains, however, that if you cover yourself up well you might avoid getting teased. Although reports suggest that the way a woman dresses has no influence on rape cases, and a woman may get raped irrespective of what she is wearing, it does help to wear full clothes while going out in India. Eve teasers have been known to target women wearing short clothes. Passing lewd comments on girls who have the guts to wear what they want is common in our country. There are a few places where girls can roam about in clothes of their choice without feeling unsafe, like college campuses, but the majority of the places in India are just not safe for you if you’re wearing a miniskirt.
9- Go out in groups
There is safety in numbers. If you are planning to go to an unsafe area, try to take your friends or family members along. A single woman is an easy target for miscreants and eve teasers, so avoid travelling unless you know the route well. Try taking busy roads when you’re alone. If you must travel by unsafe, empty roads, especially when it is dark, make sure that you have friends along with you. People looking to create trouble are often discouraged by the sight of large groups.
8-Don’t go out after dark
I absolutely hate having to say this. Girls should have the right and the freedom to go out whenever they want and not feel unsafe in their own country. Sad reality, however, dictates otherwise, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Avoid going out after dark, especially if you’re planning to go to a place that is lonely and unsafe. In our country, women who travel after dark are frowned upon. The society is as much to blame as the rapists and eve teasers who create trouble for them. Remember the comments of Delhi police asking women to be back by eight every night? Asinine, but true. In our country, it is better to get back while the sun is still shining than to get into trouble after dark. Most women are abducted and raped after sunset. So make sure you travel in a group when it is dark.
7- Public transport
Use safe modes of public transport like the metro in Delhi or the local trains of Mumbai. The crowd in these metros and trains ensures that you do not get into trouble. People might still try to slide up next to you or touch you inappropriately, so move away if that happens. Create a hue and cry if things get out of hand. Avoid using public transport at night, especially if you do not see a lot of people around you. Do not hail a cab or autorickshaw that has more than one man inside it, they may cause mischief. Remember, Nirbhaya (May she rest in peace) was gangraped in a moving bus by people who pretended to be travelers. Call a private cab or a trusted family member to pick you up when you’re out late.
6- Learn Self Defense
In light of the recent rise in rape cases and eve teasing, a lot of women have taken up self defense classes. The best way to defend yourself is to learn a martial art that will help you in case you are being attacked or assaulted. Karate and Judo remain the most popular options in this respect. When you are being attacked, try to go for the most sensitive spot of the attacker’s body- his eyes. Contrary to popular perception, don’t lunge straight for his groin. Putting pressure on his eyes will help you get away. Scour the net for self defense tips and pointers, even if you do not take any self defense classes.
5- Your Phone
Your phone can help you in more ways than one. Keep the number of trusted family members and close friends on speed dial. When you know you’re going to be travelling alone, make sure that your phone is fully charged and working. Feed in the number of helplines, police stations and ambulances for emergency. If you’re being followed, take out your phone and click a picture of the stalker. In most cases, he will get disconcerted and go away. Nowadays, many platforms have launched safety applications for women. They track your movements and have emergency provisions like automatic dialing and alarms. Download such apps to stay secure.
4- Body Language
If you walk confidently, chances are people will leave you alone. The easiest target for rapists and assailants are women who look scared and nervous. Even if you are sweating inside, your heart is beating at a ridiculous rate and you’re chanting the gayatri mantra continuously, try to maintain a cool exterior. Look alert and conscious of your surroundings. Never walk with your head down, taking quick steps in the vicinity of people who look like they mean trouble. This will probably only encourage them. Your body language can go a long way in keeping you safe and secure in unsafe circumstances.
Women are sympathetic creatures by nature. Many rapists, kidnappers etc exploit this sympathy by luring women into traps. BEWARE of men or groups of men who ask you for help. It may seem like the wrong thing to do, but move ahead. If they genuinely need help, someone else will help them. When you’re alone and unaided, never help a handicapped person into his car. This is the oldest trick in the book for kidnapping women. If a driver asks you for directions, do not get too close to the car. He might pull you in. Don’t go out with people you haven’t known very long and met at informal places without an introduction from a trusted friend. Be safe.
2- Lock your doors
Keep your house locked at all times. Never let in strangers when you are alone. There have been cases of women being raped by people who pretended to be deliverymen, from the board of electricity, delivering gas, mailmen etc etc. Keep the doors shut and bolted at all times, even when there are other family members present. If you are living alone, get an alarm system installed. Look for apartments which have a proper guard and visitor’s book, instead of stand-alone houses. Look through the keyhole before opening the door. These are all basic precautions which women often overlook.
1- Pepper Spray
The safest way to stay safe is to carry a pepper spray along with you. The government has now subsidized the rates of pepper spray and they are available at almost every chemist’s shop. In other countries, women use electric guns which give their assailants an electric shock which stuns them. This device is not yet popular in India though. However, we have pepper sprays which can be effective in warding off attacks. If you don’t have one on you and you’re planning to travel out alone after dark, keep laal mirch with you. No kidding! I know people who do that. As mentioned earlier- go for the weakest spot in the body- the eyes. Spray him or them with the pepper spray and run for your life in the opposite direction.