Young women employed at call centres in and around the capital are to get training in self-defence in the wake of two murderous assaults on female employees in Bangalore.
The Call Centre Association of India (CCAI) has decided to take pre-emptive steps to address security concerns affecting the business process outsourcing (BPO) units that in many ways symbolize the country's success story.
CCAI officials say they would soon start training their female employees in unarmed combat.
"The security of our employees has always been our top priority. We have decided to start self-defence classes for them," said Deepak Kapoor, chief spokesperson of CCAI. He did not specify when the training would begin.
"The action plan was drawn up after a series of meetings with experts in the industry and senior police officials," Kapoor told.
Women constitute around 60 per cent of the 20,000 people employed in call centres of New Delhi and satellite towns Gurgaon (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh).
Referring to the murder of 31-year-old call centre employee Tania Banerjee in Bangalore, Kapoor said such incidents did not indicate any lack of security in call centres. But police admit they do cause worry. The young woman's boyfriend has been arrested for the murder.
In a similar incident in Bangalore in December, a 24-year-old call centre employee, Pratibha Srikant, was raped and brutally murdered by a cab driver who had picked her up for her early morning shift.
That incident sparked a greater scare, even in Delhi, because drivers of private taxis pick up and drop employees from near their homes, both during day and at night.
"We have taken measures to ensure adequate security for our employees, especially women," said Kapoor.
He said the credentials of all employees are thoroughly checked when they sign up.
"We also check the credentials of the cab drivers," said Kapoor.
With a large number of young professionals working until late hours in the BPO industry, the association is planning emotional training courses for its members so that they cope with stress-related professional and personal problems.
"We are also planning to install speed governors and vehicle tracking systems in all vehicles ferrying employees to keep track of them," Kapoor said.
Women working in call centres agree that there is a need to increase security, probably by training them in martial arts.
"Such training would definitely help women protect themselves because calling the police during an emergency might not be possible all the time," said an employee working in a New Delhi-based BPO, who did not want to be identified by name.
"I would feel safer if I know how to protect myself," she added.
Shagun Dayal of another BPO said, "Training in martial arts would give a woman a sense of confidence."