iconimg Friday, July 31, 2015

Rachit Vats, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, December 24, 2012
Martial arts training, secure pick-up and drops for women staff during odd-hours, security escort to the car park.

Companies in Delhi and Mumbai are grappling with the issue of ensuring safety for their female staff members, and concerns have gone up in the wake of the Delhi gangrape incident last week.

The rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus in south Delhi last week sparked a wave of outrage on the streets, and a flutter in human resource departments.

Said SY Siddiqui, COO (HR) of India's top car maker, Maruti Suzuki, which has a small number of women on its rolls: "We are looking at introducing proper security measures including special cab services for women who work till late hours. There is an internal discussion and there will be a final decision by the first week of January."

Maruti has 9,450 employees, of which 380 are women. The company is looking to hire more women.

Noida-based Dharampal Satyapal Group, which makes the Catch brand of table salt, has about 3,500 employees, of which 10% are women. This company does not encourage women to work late.

"Noida is primarily an industrial hub and we provide all our women employees drop facility to their doorsteps after 7 pm," said group spokeswoman Bhavna Sood.

A number of companies and call centres operating in Delhi-NCR are considering martial arts training for women as a back-up.

“Earlier the corporate enquiries were focused on the entire staff but now we have seen specific requests for customised self defence packages for women,” said Anamika Singh, co-owner, Sanshin Karate Foundation, which teaches martial arts to corporate and BPO employees.

“Corporate firms have always been active to train staff for self-defence though most women were not serious about it. We are envisaging a major change in that attitude now.”

There is also significant rise in demand for self-defence products. A Mumbai-based stockist retailing security products - including taser guns and knockout sprays - has seen inquiries surge, especially from working women.

“After the incident in Delhi, women have been repeatedly calling to enquire about taser guns. Most of these are shaken up by the recent incident and driven by concerns for their safety," said Harbhajan Singh (name changed on request), who provides security products.

"The situation is beyond control, and this purchase is an immediate reaction to this provocation," said Tripti Pandey, a brand executive with Rose Group, a watch & jewellery firm in Mumbai. Pandey lives alone in the city and placed an order for a taser gun last week.