A few months ago, a young girl left a Bar in Guwahati. A gang of 18 men set on her, dragged her onto the road by her hair, ripped off her clothes, yanked up her vest and tugged at her bra, and molested her. She was crying for help from the passing cars all the while. They were laughing and smiling, staring into the several cameras that filmed them. One of those cameras belonged to a News Channel’s reporter and camera man.
Welcome to India: the country where a woman can be a president, but must fear for her safety; the country where women are beatified in its mythological lore but abhorred and abused in society; the country where no lofty panegyric is spared in proposing causes for empowering women but where women fight for a place in society; the country where news channels have women as reporters and shows devoted to women’s rights, but – devoid of any compunction – film the molestation of a woman just to add to the sensational value of the case; the country where men may frequent pubs, but the moment a woman does, she becomes a prostitute.
Welcome to India: the fourth worst country in the world, to be a woman.
And all this, right in a place that boasts of an exhibit in a museum that etches Mahatma Gandhi’s words (circa 1921), stating thus: Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.
It has been a long-standing thing in my mind: to be able to spread a note on safety, to every woman I know. What I’ve done here is to put together a simple two-fold plan for your safety.
The Safety Kit
Here’s a list of things you MUST have in your bag.
- A can of pepper spray
- A sharp pocket knife or a Swiss-knife that opens up at ease
- A whistle, so you can blow it shrilly in a place that is lonely, should you be caught unawares
- Your cell-phone, with speed-dials to people you need to reach in an emergency
- A notebook with important telephone numbers of all the people you need to reach in case of need
- Money and enough of it. You will need to have money in hand to be able to get out of a place safely by using public transport.
The Mental Preparation
- Never get into an auto/taxi if you have reason to believe that the driver is drunk or intoxicated
- Learn to defend yourself with the simple diagram below – should you feel cornered, don’t hesitate to use your knee on his vital spot.
NEVER BE AFRAID TO DRESS THE WAY YOU LIKE. You are NOT to be mistreated ANYWAY. Dress how you want, and go where you want. But if you have reason to believe that you may be subjected to harassment in a particular area, go in a group rather than alone.