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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Safe in the city
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 24, 2012
First Published: 18:00 IST(24/3/2012)
Last Updated: 01:49 IST(25/3/2012)
Ring-a-ring o’ Metro

Our experts show you how to get away from an attacker when there seems no way out. Also in Safe in the City: How to take care while holidaying on your own, safety tip and right of the day and a reader’s true-life account

Safety tip
If the attacker asks you for your money or other precious articles such as jewellery (especially when he is armed), just give it to him — your life is far more precious than any material object, no matter how costly. If the harasser still hangs around or asks you to come along with him, make a quick exit.

Know your rights
Don’t let someone take undue advantage of you on the pretext of frisking. Remember, according to Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code, no policeman can frisk you. Only a policewoman can frisk a woman. If you aren’t comfortable with the way in which you are being frisked even by a policewoman, you can report the matter to senior police officers who are bound by the law to take action.

Where I feel unsafe
Though nowhere is safe, I feel crowded buses and lonely subways are the most unsafe places for women — Zenobia Usmani

I feel unsafe in the bus, train and while walking on the roads — Poonam Maurya In buses and on long stretches of roads in the city — Sristy Kaul

My story
It happened to me when I was coming from Noida in a bus. It was broad daylight. I boarded the bus at Chaura Modh for Connaught Place. The bus conductor kept looking at me and smiled at me in a lecherous way. When my bus stop arrived, I stood up to go to the door. The bus was jam-packed and as I tried to get out, the bus conductor, who was also standing in the way, positioned himself next to me and started touching my breasts. Since the bus was over-crowded, I was not even able to throw him off. Finally, somehow, all humiliated, I got off the bus. I still think about it and feel disgusted by what I went through.  

Neha, via Facebook (name changed for privacy)

What the expert says
“Being harassed is a disgusting feeling and the person who has faced it obviously feels emotionally traumatised. One should try forgetting such an incident. Stay alert and prepare yourself for such incidents by being more aware of your surroundings. Always raise an alarm if the need arises. Safety is every human’s right, and there is no harm in getting aggressive to draw other people’s attention towards the offender. To get over the trauma, try sharing it with your loved ones such as your siblings, friends or even parents. And if this does not help, get professional medical help,” says Dr. Jitendra Nagpal, senior psychiatrist, Moolchand Medcity.

10 things women must keep in mind while travelling alone

Look out for danger

Be aware of your surroundings, watch out for the people around you. This doesn’t mean being unnecessarily paranoid. But if you find somebody taking extra interest in you, or if you see the same guy turning up at the market or near your hotel again and again, take note. Bring it to the notice of the cops in the area. Don’t ignore it; he may be a stalker. Since it’s an unfamiliar place, do not try to resolve the matter by speaking to the person. It’s always better to stay safe and be proactive. Also, while in an unknown territory, keep important helpline and emergency numbers with you. When you feel the situation is beyond your control, call up for help without a second thought.

Trust your instincts
Travelling to foreign lands does not mean that a woman puts her instincts on a holiday too. You may not know the language of the land, but listen to your gut feeling to gauge whether a person trying to be friendly means harm or not. If a person is making you uncomfortable, or a situation is suddenly going from friendly to overfriendly, get out of there as fast as possible. Also, don’t get into arguments with strangers, be polite but firm. Always remember they would have more friends than you do in their city, and just in case they decide to teach you a lesson, you’d be outnumbered. It’s better to take precautions and be on your guard.

A guidebook can Help
A guide book is the most helpful companion on a trip to an unknown land. It can help you get familiar with the streets and culture of the place. It also provides information about the hotels to stay at, their location and shopping places. The guidebook also gives you information about the eating joints around. It’s better not to ask strangers for information on such things as they can mislead you or get you into trouble. Try not to be adventurous and take off to unfamiliar suburbs or faraway restaurants as it would be difficult to get help in such places. Plan visits to places mentioned in the guidebook as these books suggest things only after doing proper research.

Busy places are safe
This is an old advice, but often ignored. Don’t walk alone on deserted stretches, especially in the dark. Think about things you wouldn’t do in your home country, like walking down isolated roads or taking off without telling someone. Going to a popular and crowded place can actually make a woman less of a target, as it helps her to blend in with the surroundings and get help when needed. Moreover, in a crowd, a person would think twice before harassing you as he would not want to draw attention to himself. So, always remember, when on foreign shores, stick around only in crowded places and leave a note at the hotel, saying where you are going.

Guard your belongings
Use covered luggage tags. Instead of your home address, write that of your office. Don’t let people know where you stay. Lock all suitcases and secure documents that reveal your identity. Keep your passport safe; carry a copy of it and leave the original in the hotel safe. When out, keep a close track of your handbag; don’t leave it on the floor or a chair. A good idea is to put your valuables in a security waist pack and wear it while sleeping. When you go to the lavatory, take your purse/valuables with you. For your safety, carry important self-defence tools such as pocket knives, pepper spray, torch, etc. For the entire list, refer to yesterday’s Safe In The City page.

Pick your hotel with care
If you are going to a country for the first time, it is wise to get a room booked in advance after thorough research. It saves you from being lost in a new place. After the first night, you can always find another hotel that suits you better. When choosing a hotel, aim for a busy street (neighbourhood restaurants and late-night stores mean traffic). Avoid corporate office areas which get deserted at night. Affluent residential areas tend to have more reliable transportation and fewer threatening people. A reception and concierge desk near the entrance or elevators is more likely to deter miscreants from entering the hotel. Check if your hotel has a safe; avoid carrying valuables around.

Dress appropriately
It’s important to dress according to the culture of the place you are visiting. Even though it’s your right to dress the way you want, understanding a country’s culture and dress code will save a woman from unwanted attention and would allow her to interact more comfortably with the local population. Avoid wearing something too revealing as that draws unnecessary attention.  Also, avoid wearing jewellery or expensive items as that would make you an easy target for thieves. Always dress comfortably, so that in time of danger you can easily get away and make a run for your safety. Tightly-fitted clothing will restrict your movement.

Sightseeing Tips
Study a map before going out; once on the street, use a pocket-size guidebook to avoid looking like a tourist. Your hotel’s concierge or a female employee can mark all those areas on your map that can pose danger and should be avoided. While walking from your hotel towards the town, register landmarks and remember street names so you can find your way back. If you must ask for directions, approach families or women with children. To be extra safe, say, “Where is the XYZ place? I’m meeting my husband there.” If possible, also try to carry a GPS-enabled phone with you so that you don’t get lost.

Watch your drinks
Nightlife is one of the great perks of travel. If you are travelling alone, enjoy yourself, but bear in mind that being tipsy in your own neighbourhood is a lot different from being tipsy in a bar in an unknown place. For one, your instincts are short and any potential danger goes unnoticed. Secondly, getting home isn’t easy, especially in foreign cabs on unknown streets. But that doesn’t mean you turn into a teetotaller on your trips abroad, just know your limit and don’t go overboard. No matter how stressed you are, alcohol shouldn’t act as a stress-buster in a new land. If you have to beat stress, try something more safe like listening to music or watching a movie.

Company can be helpful
Travelling as a woman alone can be brilliant, but in case you want to go somewhere remote and would like company, having other fellow travellers accompanying you is a great idea. Travellers often watch out for each other, and sometimes, this is the best safety bet. There are many advantages of having someone along with you because if you do get into trouble then there will be at least two of you to tackle it.

sources: www.kevincoffee.com ; http://matadornetwork.com/

Safe in the city
What if all else fails and an attacker tries to force himself on you? No, you’ve not lost the battle even in such a situation — we show you five easy self-defence moves to wriggle out and save your life. There’s also a cut-n-keep poster on ten things every woman must keep in mind while travelling alone.

What if all else fails and the attacker forces himself on you?
No, you have not lost the battle even if an attacker manages to defeat all your attempts and pins you down on the ground. Don’t panic or give up; follow these practical tips to wriggle out and save your life when all else fails.

1 In most situations, the attacker would push you to the ground and place himself on you, between your legs

2 Part your legs immediately, and place your right foot on the attacker’s right ankle to lock his right leg and restrict his movement

3 Now, outstretch your left hand swiftly, resembling the crucifix position. This would take his weight off you and move him to the left

4 As you outstretch your left hand (as shown in step 3),  lift your right hip up and topple him over to the floor

5 Once you’ve managed to get him on the floor, punch him hard under the nostrils or in the eyes, get up and flee from the spot.


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