Living a more secure life: 10 essential safety tips for women

  • By Sahana Rajan

Over 35% of the women around the world are victims of some form of violence - physical, mental (emotional) and verbal. (Report by World Health Organization)

"Walking through the streets of the city at 11 pm, Trisha felt a pulse of fright climb up her spine. She should have known that the streets were a woman's worst enemies at night. However, nowadays, even the daytime doesn’t seem that friendly. Eve-teasing, lewd comments and inappropriate touching were rampant in any situation where disrespectful men found themselves in company of woman or women. Trisha was glad that she was carrying her pepper-spray and was a black-belt karate student."

In conversation with Trisha and other women, we have jotted down the 10 essential ways in which women can ensure their safety :

Tip 1 : Be alert of your surroundings
The first requirement for being able to react to any situation adequately is to be aware and alert of your surroundings. No matter which place you are in, even at your really close friend's place, make sure you know who lives with her, the timings of the people who visit often (especially if you decide to stay over with her/him for long) and get to know the safest places to hang out.

Tip 2 : Get effective safety apps on your phone
Keeping in mind the fact that every woman has some form of mobile communication device with her today, a range of safety apps have been created for situations where you need help. The most recent and effective apps include: VithU (V Gumrah Initiative),iFollow-Ladies Safety (sponsored by Nasscom), I am Shakti (by Notion Ink) and Feel Secure (by SpotnSave company). The prime feature of these apps is to send emergency messages to a list of contacts you configure for the purpose, when you press a certain button(s).

Tip 3 : Carry pepper-spray and a minimal form of weapon
Carry a pepper-spray with you all the time. While it is a useful instrument of safety, it has drawbacks which would allow you to conclude that it is better to carry a pocket knife. Pepper-spray does not work on everyone. Over 15% people are not affected by a full-face pepper-spray.

Tip 4 : Report any crimes you witness or are informed about
While it is known that the administration of violence cases has been quite ineffective in the past years, one cannot conclude that it does not work at all. Your reporting of any case of violence would allow the police to find a lead in other cases and to spread the word of warning about the person of your description.

Tip 5 : Enrol for self-defence classes
Today, self-defence classes have special training for women. This will involve readying you for situations where you would have to defend yourself against any person inflicting or intending to inflict violence on you. Martial arts like boxing and karate will keep you better prepared for risky circumstances.

Tip 6 : Home-safety : Never, ever open the door to someone you do not know
Most cases of home invasions happen following the unforced entrance of the invader. Men who wish to impose harm on you can disguise themselves in various forms. They could act as salesmen, courier delivery boys, machine / device maintenance staff and others. Make sure you check their identity card first before opening the door for them. You can do this through a small window attached to your door.

Tip 7 : Be confident
Even though you feel very scared, do not show it on your face. This will only encourage the opponent to follow and actualize your fears. Be confident and send SOS message to your close ones using the safety apps. If you find the person gaining speed, then run to the nearest crowded place or into a house. Ask for help from passer-bys. If you do end up confronting the person, then hit him hard in the crotch area. You can also hit the frontal part of the Adam's apple or the chest area. Punching a person hard in the stomach also leaves him/her breathless and this would prevent him / her from chasing you.

Tip 8 : Avoid travelling in public transport at night
Though the fight has been going for a safer city, the nights prove to be the time for men to realize their worst fantasies. Riding in cars with loud music and their inconsiderate hooliganism in rashly driven bikes make it evident that it is best if you do not go out at night for travelling at all. However, if you are forced to go out, then travel with a group.

Tip 9 : If you are driving a car, then keep in mind the points mentioned below
Do not park at an isolated place. Before you enter your car, make sure you check the backseats. Never give lifts to men or women. It has been found that many women play a critical role in luring innocent girls into the trap of prostitution. Stick to routes you are familiar with and do not take unnecessary shortcuts.

Tip 10 : Being safe in the cyber-world
Safety is also an issue when you are surfing the internet. Make sure your anti-virus, spyware and malware protection is up-to-date. Do not open any spam mails and attachments with it. Do not chat with strangers or share any intimate information about yourself with them. Avoid sending sexually explicit messages including photo or video over mail. In case your communication with the recipient is broken or ends of bad terms, you would be in trouble over the sent items.