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Up in arms

chandigarh Updated: Jan 02, 2013 10:29 IST
Usmeet Kaur

There goes a saying: Giving respect to a woman is the manliest thing a man can do. Unfortunately, most of the males in the Indian society don’t seem to have been brought up to learn this. As a result, after a multitude of crimes against women, the horrific Delhi gang rape being the latest, women have realised it is a better bet to be their own guard instead of waiting for the authorities to tame the beasts or for the orthodox society to change its mindset.

No help like self-help
Ameet Arora is a 30-year-old Jalandhar-based homemaker who has resolved to bring up her daughters to fight back. “School buses are not a safe mode of transport and conductors and drivers can not be trusted. That is why I personally pick and drop both my daughters. However, my efforts to protect them does not mean they become weak. So, I’m teaching them both karate,” she says. “Instead of stopping them from stepping out of their home, I teach them how to tackle strangers. Else, they will never be able to protect themselves,” she reasons.

An Amritsar resident, 25-year-old banker Pukhraj Paul also vouches for learning of martial arts for one’s protection. Since her job demands travel, Pukhraj stays ready to combat trouble. “I travel everyday with a driver from Amritsar to Tarn Taran. But I never travel alone, since moving in groups helps. I also keep a baseball bat in my car. I am a Taekwondo and Judo expert, which can aid me in handling three men at a time,” she says, adding, “Learning of martial arts should become mandatory for women since taming men is becoming difficult nowadays.”

Pukhraj also floats the idea of women cab drivers coming into play, especially for women travelling at night. “But then, would these women drivers feel safe at night? This is only possible with police assistance, which needs to increase vigilance on the highways and on inner city streets,” she suggests.

Rashmeeta Khurrana, 18, a student at Sacred Heart Convent School, Ludhiana, believes all women ought to carry weapons to defend themselves. “Eve teasing and sexual harassment is common in small towns in Punjab. Every girl should have a pepper spray in her bag. There should also be liberalisation in allotting weapons to women, as long as they don’t misuse them,” she says.

When knowledge is empowerment
Women are gifted with a strong instinct. Dr Rakesh Sachdeva, a CBSE counsellor and the principal of DAV School, Sector 15, Chandigarh, says it is important for girls to act on that instinct and stay alert at all times. “Girls should learn from a young age the difference between a good and bad touch. They need to act intelligently, such as raise their voice against misbehaviour to catch attention, but also look for an escape to safety instead of staying on to slap the person.” Though Sachdeva believes that ‘dressing decently will help avert problems’, he doesn’t think curbing the girls’ freedom to go out will help, since, “they are not even safe in their homes, which is a bigger tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Naunihal Singh, SSP, Chandigarh Police, echoes the necessity of girls’ putting their foot down when encountering rowdy elements. “Always nip the problem in the bud. Girls should raise their voice and make it clear that they will not tolerate harassment. But confrontation should be avoided, and instead they should dial 100 the very instant a man passes a lewd comment,” Singh advises.

Police support
The Chandigarh Police recently initiated a service wherein PCR vans will ferry girls to the safety of their homes after dark. But there are numerous instances where the girls feel uncomfortable with male police officials. Says Naunihal Singh, “There is no differentiating between a man and a woman constable, whoever is in uniform will protect a girl and respond to her request. We have a special women’s squad for the night shift, but to reduce the interaction between a harassed person and the cops, you can dial 100. Every call is recorded and the police will rush to rescue the caller. There is no need to go to a police station to record your statement.”

Singh says they have made other efforts, such as meeting senior employees of CTU (Chandigarh Transport Undertaking), officials of the department of education and tutors of private coaching centers in the tricity, to discuss ways to safeguard women. “The number of buses meant for only women will be increased, women-only bus stops will be created and there will be no bus stop near a liquor vend. Drivers have been instructed to not overload buses with passengers, special routes will be designated to take women to far-lying areas and the quality of lighting on the roads will be improved,” Singh elaborates.

“We want to create an example by making Chandigarh the safest city for girls. This will encourage other cities and states to follow,” resolves the officer.

One can only hope every corner of the country is made safe for its women.

To know more about legal rights that every woman should know of, check out the following link: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Punjab/Chandigarh/10-legal-rights-every-woman-must-know/SP-Article1-981794.aspx