I, too, have been subjected to such situations and have felt victimized. Of course, there is the option to stay as safe and alert as you can, but both these terms are subjective. With the number and kind of cases you hear and read about everyday, you feel angry and at the same time, helpless! There are perverts and sick people all around us and we have to share the space with them. We don't know them, we cannot recognize them... all we can do is protect ourselves to the best of our abilities. There are some rules I follow, which I want to share with you (forgive me for sounding like a dadi-ma :).
- Prefer travelling/commuting with someone, especially during late hours; else avoid going at all! I know I'm sounding like an old granny, but that's too small a price to pay for our safety, trust me.
- Carry a self-defense weapon always. I, too, have been carrying a pepper spray on me for the last four years now - a gift my brother gave me on Valentine's Day! And I have used it once in Gurgaon! Whenever I am travelling alone, it is in my hands and my cell phone in the pocket! It's the best weapon that works from eight feet away!
- Be alert even while you are in an auto rickshaw or cab. I was returning from Noida and was on a call when the auto driver took a left into a dark, lonely by lane. I asked him to stop immediately, while he said it was a shortcut. I yelled at him and finally, he returned to the main road... rather hesitantly.
- If you hire car/taxis frequently, do that from one trusted company only. Staying away from home, I require one frequently especially for going for weddings, receiving family etc, which usually are around late evenings and at those times, I make it a point to book one in advance from a place I have known for years now (however, I still am on my guard).
- Do NOT wear clothes that are revealing, flimsy or too short/tight, if you are going out alone! Wear it only when you are with friends, preferably male friends in the group and that too in your (or friend's) car. A friend's wife argued that doing this was taking away our freedom. Why can't we wear what we like, whenever we want to? The answer is simple - you sure do not want unwanted attention or invite any trouble for yourself. If you are going for a party, why not carry a dress and change there, rather than travelling to the venue all dressed up in a cab or auto? Again, don't return alone!
- Avoid empty/dark lanes or roads. How much ever late you are getting, take the longer busier route.
- Do NOT take lifts from people you don't or you barely know! I was negotiating with an autowala in Defense colony market when this gentleman (???) called out to me saying that he knew me and we had met before. When I denied knowing him, he introduced himself and insisted on dropping me to my destination. When I further refused and walked away, he followed. I immediately sat in the nearest auto and made a quick exit.
- If you feel you are being stalked/followed, trust your gut feel and don't hesitate to call for help. It's happened with me also. In fact, the last time it was in Lajpat Nagar market a few weeks back. I walked up to the entry area where there's security and hung around there till I felt safe enough to leave.
- Change your routes and timings frequently. You never know when it is being taken note of!
- Even when you are in your work place, be alert and awake. You sure have heard of incidents in these places. And if anything untoward happens, call for help immediately.
- Try joining some karate classes. A couple or two of those stunts will sure make you feel safer and more confident.
- A woman has that sixth sense to know and tell the intentions of a man. And I believe in that completely. So, believe in yourself! In these times, when trusting people you know is so difficult, trusting strangers is out of the question!
- Never pass or stand close to a halted car, especially if is dark. (Courtesy: Vartika :) )
- Join groups like http://www.fight-back.net/ and http://blog.blanknoise.org/. And don't just join; be active and participate. Till now, even I felt that these are not meant for me; but now I have every reason to be there, take a stand and fight back against all those perverts who think that they can get away with anything that they want! I don't know what big a difference can I make; but even a small effort will help me look into the eye when I face the mirror. (Thanks Ani, for all your info on these :). )
This post must have raised quite a few brows and I understand those well. But this is the least I can do for others like me. However strong a woman may seem, she'll feel helpless and confused when faced with such situations, when you have lesser time to react. However, there is one thing that you need to keep in mind always. Never compromise at the price of your honor. Forget what the world will say. It's your safety and honor that is MOST important.
And blogdosts, I will love to hear your ideas and opinion of how we can make ourselves safer. Your tips will sure help us not feel alone in a bad bad world!