I have been living in Bangalore for the past 4 years and prior to that, my young teen years and late 20’s were spent in Mangalore. If I were to compare my experiences of living in these two cities then I would say that I feel Bangalore is much safer than my hometown. Although I love Mangalore and I’m proud of my place, there have been many times that I was groped, pushed or touched in the wrong places when I was living there. Whenever I was walking in a narrow lane, I was careful that I gave ample space to any passing two-wheelers because I was scared of that random hand extended forward to grope. Although I have had my share of occasional propositions from over-enthusiastic auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore, I have never experienced any untoward incidents during my stay here (touch wood).
I’m sure every girl has had her share of these unfortunate incidents and would keep some tips stored safely in her memory that she would abide by always. Here are some tips that I feel would be useful to all women to avoid being in a menacing situation.
Accept the truth: The first time I heard about the Nirbhaya case in Delhi, I was sad, shocked and distressed. In fact for one week I was extremely scared when stepping outside my home. But after a week, the numbness began to settle in, the shock factor declined and the initial anger receded. When we read about such cases in papers there is a feeling that such things won’t happen to us, distancing us from the hard reality. But the fact is, those women who were victims of rape were daughters, sisters, wife or girlfriends too. They were as human as anyone of us. It’s time that we accepted that rape can happen to any of us. And the onus is on each of us to be prepared, to stay alert and stay safe.
Be Prepared : Buy a pepper spray, join a self-defense class, carry a pin or a sharp object like pen knife. You never know when they might come in use. Before heading out of home, always ensure that your mobile is charged and has enough balance to make emergency calls.
Use technology: In today’s world when most of our daily chores are done with the help of advanced technology, why not use it for staying safe and secure too. Apps like Smart Suraksha might save the day for women when in a sticky situation. This Android application sends a message to 5 pre-chosen contacts with just a touch of a button. It also recognizes and sends a message about your location to the chosen contacts even if the GPS setting is switched off on your phone. My only hope is that this application becomes available in an ordinary phone so that every woman, irrespective of if she has a smart phone or not, can make use of this brilliant app.
Inform: Always inform your family members of your whereabouts or if you are held up somewhere due to some reason. If you are travelling alone in an auto or company cab during late hours, make the call while travelling so that the driver knows you have informed about your location, which will discourage the driver from attempting anything dangerous.
Stay alert: When travelling in an auto, always note down the registration number and the driver’s name. Talk loudly and confidently and refuse if the driver offers to drive through any shortcuts to your destination, especially if you don’t know the routes.
Learn the local language: Learn the local language of the city, even a few words and sentences would help when dealing with local cads who think that if someone is a non-resident of that city then they can easily take them for a ride.
Don’t stall: When walking on the road, take large strides confidently and always walk with your head held high. Stalkers usually target women who shuffle while walking or are busy on their mobile phones. Be aware of your surroundings and walk with a gait that shows you know where you are going.
Be careful when giving out personal details: When giving out your mobile number and address for official purposes or to a friend make sure that others are not listening in. Sometimes we have a tendency to blurt out personal details in front of a crowd but you never know if someone is taking a little too much interest in your information.
Never take too much cash: Never carry too much cash with you or wear bling jewelry that might draw attention of muggers. If, unfortunately you are attacked for money offer the money that you have and ask the mugger to take it and leave, especially if the attacker is armed. If the situation turns worse, run as fast as possible in a zig-zag manner and use Smart Suraksha app to alert your friends and family.
And finally be confident and stay safe but have fun too. Never blame yourself. Women have a right to live, to laugh, and to enjoy as any man. Wearing a mini-skirt or partying late night is no justification for rape. Nothing is! Staying inside the four walls of your home doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be safe nor will wearing conservative dresses or addressing all men other than your father and husband as “Bhaiyya” will.
Be alert, act smart and stay safe always!