When I think of the number of times I have opened my door without checking who it is, or taken a taxi at four in the morning, or ignored the leery eyes and hoots of many a hooligan, or walked by myself on dark empty roads at midnight, I shudder. The only reason I have not been raped when women in less vulnerable positions have is a matter of luck, or destiny as we Indians like to call it.
Like a terrible car crash it only takes a few moments of lack of attention for a man to decide to rape you.
So what can you do? Sadly, you can’t do much, but there is a certain amount of precaution you can take:
– Always carry pepper spray: Keep one next to your bedside, keep one near the front door, keep one in the outer pocket of your purse, keep one at your office desk. Learn how to use it correctly. You can buy it online. Gift it to every woman in your life.
– Learn to physically hurt a man in case of attack. Take self-defence classes like Krav Maga or Google methods to protect yourself.
– Download safety apps like 0Hour, SOS and bSafe.
– Practice screaming.
– Promote avoidance rather than confrontation, especially if you’re alone or with other women.
– When getting into a taxi, at any time during the day, text someone reliable – mother, boyfriend, best friend, brother – the number plate, the driver’s name (which will alert the driver that he is being watched and hopefully scare him out of bad intentions), the route you’re taking, the time you expect to reach. On reaching text the same person that you’ve arrived. They must, like Pavlov’s dog, be alert if you’re not reachable at the stated time of arrival.
– If there is no choice and you have to walk alone in the dark, or take a taxi at an obscene hour, then keep someone on the phone with you. Make sure the driver knows you are talking about them. Describe the route you’re taking, where you are, and speak in Hindi. Don’t get off the phone till you’re home.
– If you can’t be on the phone with someone, pretend you are.
– Speak up! If you’ve been attacked or molested, go to the police station, go to a NGO, tell your friends and family, put it on Facebook preferably with photos of the culprit, tweet about it, blog about it. Go to new websites like Mapping Sexual Violence where your story can be shared with others. Don’t keep silent out of guilt or laziness. You could nab the culprit and give other women the confidence to also speak up and stem this menace.
What we think of as normal behaviour and human conduct for women is an act of bravado in our country. Like the learned gurus of our nation have said, in between their prayanmas and satsangs, it is ‘asking for it’. Make sure you at least learn how to give it back.
Feature pic Credit: Hindustan Times