I would like to start this important article by hitting at the very value system taught to us which at times and for women, most of the times, becomes counterproductive.
Bible says, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Matt 26:52b .
But in today’s world where crime against women is rising can a woman survive by walking two miles with her assaulter if he wants her to walk one mile. The truth is a woman has to refuse to walk even an inch with an assaulter because if she does, after a quarter of a mile only, this maniac is going to victimize another woman and shall carry on doing so.
The Holy bible once again says that all who draw the sword will die by the sword, rightly so but the sword of an assaulter and that of a defender may both be made of same steel tempered in the same ice and fire but it’s the spirit behind these swords that is different. So the tenth Sikh Master beautifully said in his poetic work ZAFARNAMA,
‘Chu kar az hameh heel-te dar guzasht, halal ast burdan b-shamsheer dast’ ."If all righteous means to get justice fail, picking up of a sword is just and pious."
Crime against women is rising by day. A woman is raped every 32 minute in India, murdered every 22 minute, and molested every 15 minutes and made a victim of domestic violence every 11 minutes Its common knowledge that our country’s executive and judiciary are sleeping and women seldom get justice in such cases, and that too if they report these cases in the first place. Gone are the days when women were worshipped in India - today crime against them is on a rise at an alarming rate, and every woman is a potential victim, irrespective of her age.
Women are being teased openly, molested mercilessly, stabbed ruthlessly, thrown out of running trains, burnt alive, attacked with acid and raped - the list goes on... People who commit such crimes feel that the women are weak and can be easily be suppressed. The worst part is that the majority of crime against women is carried out by someone well known to them. The painful truth is that while most females are sociologically conditioned to depend on someone for their well-being, women cannot depend on anyone but themselves for their own protection. The most logical reaction to threat of any kind is self-defence. The most important aspects of self-defence are the awareness to recognise potential danger, avoid or neutralise any tense situation with assertiveness, verbal tactics, safety strategies and resorting to physical tactics as a last effort, which enables the would-be victim to effectively prevent, resist, escape and survive a close encounter.
Just as it is essential to know how to swim in order to survive in water, it is essential to know how to be able to protect one in order to survive on land. It is high time women overcame social conditioning to passivity, helplessness, low self-esteem and self-sacrifice and get into the right mental frame of mind to be able to protect themselves.
Self-defence can be divided into two main approaches:-
1. Prevention- Which is about taking appropriate and timely precautions. Here more is always less. In many cases, a crime is preventable with just some common sense and a generally alert and aware disposition.
2. Reaction- Once the trouble has begun, and there is no escape, a woman must have the courage and tactic to fight and injure the attacker. In reaction speed and force are very important.
The most important self defence tool you have is, of course, your brain. Use it! Let common sense prevail. Self awareness is foremost. That includes the awareness of everyone around you, where they are and what they are doing. Your best bet is to use all your senses including the sixth sense that women possess in a high degree. Here is a list of some simple things that you can do immediately that will prevent unwanted incidents:-
1- Understand your surroundings. Walk or hang out in areas that are open, well lit, and well travelled. Become familiar with the buildings, parking lots, parks, and other places you walk. Pay particular attention to places where someone could hide — such as stairways and bushes. Listen: Keep your ears open for any odd noises or the sound of footsteps following you on a lonely street. Avoid MP3 players and phones when outside your safety zone as they limit that ability. Watch: Keep your eyes open. Observe the people and objects around you. NEVER stare at the ground or look self-conscious.
2- Check out the hangouts. Do they look safe? Are you comfortable being there? Ask yourself if the people around you seem to share your views on fun activities — if you think they're being reckless, move on.
3 - Wearing revealing clothing at inappropriate places should be avoided. Doing so may get you unwanted attention from people with evil intent. In public places it is wise to dress sensibly. If you want to flaunt something it should be your attitude and the maturity with which you carry yourself.
4- Trust your instincts. Women are very intuitive. If you think a situation might be dangerous then it probably is. If you feel suspicious about a man who’s all alone in the lift, don’t enter, use the stairs. If you see or sense problems on your way, change route or go to the other side of the road and prepare to run and defend yourself. That little guardian angel should be trusted rather than ignored.
5 - Drinking alcohol if you are not used to it, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, taking mind altering drugs and leaving ANY food or drink unattended where it may be tampered with is a recipe for disaster. Give your self an even chance.
6 - NEVER pick up hitch-hikers and ABSOLUTELY NEVER hitch-hike yourself. Life is NOT a Bollywood movie. Trusting a stranger is and absolute taboo.
7- Make sure your friends and parents know your daily schedule (classes, sports practice, club meetings, etc.). If you go on a date or with friends for an after-game snack, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return.
8- Carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure it's programmed with your parents’ and some trusted guardians’ phone number on quick dial.
9-Be willing to report crimes in your neighbourhood and school to the police.
10- If you live alone make sure that all your mail is addressed by just your first initial followed by your surname. Never allow mail to be addressed to you with salutations like Miss, Mrs, Ms or with your given name. Those letters and parcels pass many eyes before they get to you. Change them. Make them nondescript as to your sex and marital status. Why allow anybody even one extra shred of information about you?
11– Avoid travelling alone at all costs. NEVER walk alone at night or at any time in isolated areas. Predators love these locations. Avoid lonely or unknown shortcuts. If you are forced to travel alone especially late in the night use crowded trains and buses. If it is an emergency and you are forced to hire a taxi, note down its number and text it to someone. Let the taxi driver know that your family is expecting you home and if you get late, or the taxi gets stalled, someone will be able to reach you immediately. In short make your self appear as well connected and invulnerable as possible. It can go a long way in protecting you.
12- Never act or look like an easy target. Body language is very important. Look strong, alert and confident. Most fights are won before they start, and aggressors will back down if you maintain eye contact and are not intimidated by them. Remember they are looking for an easy target.
13 - Most sexual assaults are by people who the victims knew - or, at least, thought they knew! Be friendly and polite by all means but be vigilant for tell-tale signs of "strange" behaviour. Do NOT flirt. Be very firm about any unwanted attention, particularly in the work place. Many a time young girls do not realize the importance of these lines until it is too late. A sexual attack is usually preceded by some visual sign, which is usually preceded by some verbal approach before the physical action. Recognize the sequence: the look - the talk - the attack. A group of rapists and date rapists in prison when interviewed revealed the signs they sought in women before attacking.
· Long hair as they are easy to grip. Women with short hair are not common targets.
· Revealing and inviting clothing easy to rip off or tear.
· Women obsessed with their cell phones while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.
· Women moving around alone at odd hours.
· If you put up any kind of a fight at all, an assaulter gets discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it, will be time-consuming and inviting trouble.
· Assaulters avoid women who have umbrellas, or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands as a weapon
RE-ACTION:- Reaction is usually only required when the prevention has been inappropriate and not vigilant enough. Attackers are very rarely strangers who jump out of dark alleys. Sadly, teens can be attacked by people they know. If the situation comes down to a physical fight remember that everything that surrounds you can be used as weapons like ashtrays, chairs, bottles, kitchen utensils, sand, stones, coins, knives, finger rings, pencils, iron sticks, knitting needles, belts or your cellular phone while outside. Any aerosol can, hair spray, body spray, spray paint, pepper, tear gas etc can be used. At any one time, people unconsciously carry many potential weapons. For example, belts may be used as garrotte or a whip with a buckle, coins may be thrown onto the face of an opponent to stun and blind him. It’s a good idea to have some chilly powder always handy in your purse. Your clothes like a big kerchief or a scarf may be used to choke and obscure vision. Handbags can be used to strike, a pen is a very useful weapon of self defence to poke into the eyes, a hairbrush to scratch across the eyes, perfume to sprays into the eyes, etc. Always practice how to quickly and effectively use them. Attack quickly, and if possible, the vulnerable points. You might have only one chance to defend yourself, do not lose it. Fight and strike first if once you feel that the situation has taken an ugly turn.
Take a Self-Defence Class: - The best way — in fact the only way — to prepare yourself to fight off an attacker is to take a self-defence class or at least buy a self help book or Video and train yourself. It would be great to learn all the right moves from an article, but some things you just have to learn in person. A good self-defence class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide how to act. Self-defence classes can also teach special techniques for breaking an attacker's grasp and other things you can do to get away, a kick in the groin or jab in the eye, for instance. A good self-defence class can teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard. One of the best things people take away from self-defence classes is self-confidence. As a part of psycho self defence here is a trick that works. If someone is following you on a street or in an elevator or stair case, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it or are you a local or a tourist. This shall not only make you confront the person but you also get to see his face and could identify him in a line-up. This way you also lose appeal as a soft target. If you carry pepper spray just use it before someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can by outsmarting them. After the initial hit, always GO for the GROIN. When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible!
SPECIAL TIP-If you are thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVEOFF, repeat: DO NOT DRIVEOFF! Instead rev up the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location. Before you get in to your parked vehicle look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. Get in to your car only when you feel safe.
So ladies please protect yourself, empower yourself and realize your own hidden powers as it is always better to be safe than sorry. (And better paranoid than dead.) If you feel threatened don’t let your intimidator have a field day but strike back, and strike back fast and hard so as to put off an attacker and also leave a befitting lesson for those who may dare to dare elsewhere.