Over the past year, we have heard of many rape cases in the country. Every time an incident surfaces, parents and concerned well-wishers of women panic and try to protect them by curtailing their movements, insisting on a male escort, regular reporting etc.
So, is a woman to stop working? Should she avoid the late working hours and in the process, miss out on some key projects? Should she not use public transport means? Should she be living in fear all the time? Should organisations stop hiring women employees? Should they insist that their women employees leave every evening by a certain time even though their male colleagues are working late to complete an assignment? Wouldn’t all this take away a woman’s Fundamental Right to Freedom and Equality, as laid down by the Indian Constitution?
What is a woman to do?
Restriction of any kind will mean a breach of the Fundamental Rights of a woman. This Right gives us powers to exert ourselves. However, the fact is that with power comes responsibility. How responsible are we in exerting our Rights? Have we really recognized the power within us or are we waiting for the World to turn out to be a safer place for us? What are we, as women doing to make the world safe for ourselves? What are we doing to express our power?
These are tips for a woman to stay safe while she is travelling. They may seem simple but will go a long way in helping you stay in control of your situation.
1. Be aware of your surroundings all the time; the elevator, the staircase in your office or residential complex, while traveling in a cab, by road. Please note that there is a difference between being fearful and being aware.
2. If you are travelling by a cab:
Be aware of your journey. Don’t get so engrossed in your mobile phone or any other distraction that you lose track of where you are. If you are a smartphone user, make use of the GPS available, especially if you are travelling to an unknown place. It is also a good idea to check the route before you start the journey. While booking radio cabs, use the online booking option. Several radio cab companies provide the online facility of keying in a contact person’s number, who will get regular updates of your movement from one point to another. Take down cab/ auto details (car no., name of the driver, starting point of your journey etc.) and message to a local friend or family member. Don’t ever take a snooze while in a cab. That’s the easiest way for a cab driver to change the direction of your journey. Keep checking the rear view mirror to see if the driver is watching you unnecessarily. Keep your mobile phone handy and charged. It is a good idea to invest in a spare battery which is charged at all times; just like keeping a spare tyre in a car.
3. If you are travelling by local train:
Avoid getting into an absolutely empty ladies compartment, especially post the peak hours in the night time. It is safer to be in a general compartment. Inform a family member or local friend the time that you board the train. Keep your mobile phone charged and handy. Make sure that your handbag has useful articles like hairpin, nail filer, perfume spray etc. Try not to fall asleep in a compartment which has very few people in it. Don’t try to get into running train.
4. If you are walking on a road:
Be aware of what is happening around you. Keep your head up all the time and look into the eyes of anyone who is trying to mess with you. Sometimes a strong look is enough to scare the daylights out of mischief makers. Avoid texting on your phone or having long chats. This is a road hazard also. Avoid unlit/ dimly lit streets and by lanes especially in the night. Keep your phone handy. If you feel like someone is chasing you or following you, move into a shop or ATM (it has a CCTV & mostly a security guard too). Use your vocal chords effectively should the need arise.
5. If you are driving your own car:
Ensure that the central locking system is put on as soon as you get into your car. Don’t roll down your window for pedestrians unnecessarily. In a parking lot, be aware of your surroundings and get into your car quickly. Don’t hang around your car to complete a call. It is wiser to get into the car, put the central lock in place and then conclude your call. Avoid rash driving. It draws unnecessary attention. Keep your car fuelled and well maintained. Ensure the spare tyre has air in it. Learn to change the tyre of your car. You never know when you’ll need it! Save a few contact numbers to speed dial mode. This list should include people who will come to your rescue immediately, the police and contact number of a 24/7 car service station (make sure you have validated the service station).
6. Post late night parties:
In case you are returning from a late night party, make sure that you are always carrying a stole or a scarf that you can wrap around yourself. This becomes especially relevant when you are dressed in either short dresses or one that shows your cleavage. Continue wearing these clothes with confidence, but just make sure that you are appropriately covered while traveling late at nights. In case you have had too many drinks, try and opt for a pick-up and drop by someone you trust. If that is not possible and you are required to travel by cab, consider talking on the phone to a friend or family member while you are traveling. This will help you stay awake, keep another person aware of your movements and also let the cab driver know that you are in control. Do not let the cab driver get the impression that you are drunk and therefore an easy target.
7. Always look confident and in control, even if you are feeling just the opposite. It will deter a person from encroaching into your space. You can practice this look in the mirror every morning. Remember, rapists are looking for easy victims. Don’t make yourself one.
8. Enroll for basic self-defense classes which will teach you easy techniques to protect yourself. Make sure the class is a basic level, which does not require you to reach a certain level of fitness before implementing the tips.
9. Believe in yourself. Don’t let such events deter you from reaching your goal in life. Women are life giving forces. We have the latent strength to meet any challenge.
The intention of this article is to turn the mindset of women from being a victim to being victorious. We hope you found this useful. We would also like to hear your views and comments on this article.