The recent spate of rapes in cities and mofussil areas all over the country, followed by the gang rape around the South campus here in the very heart of our Delhi, has once again catapulted to centre stage the issue of women's safety in Delhi. The need, yet again for a critical review of the system to smoothen out rough edges, and make the city safer than it is perceived to be as an obvious fall-out of such an aberration.
While the Delhi Police, whichever be its wing that's concerned, are charging full steam to bring to book the criminals responsible for the reprehensible act while acting simultaneously to review and remove the apparent lapses that are being bandied about by all and subdry, and to introduce further checks and balances "the safety of women" per se still remains a matter of concern vociferously presented in a cross-section of the media.
It is unfortunate that the criminally minded view the female as an easy target, not necessarily only for sexual offences. That this phenomenon is not peculiar to India alone but common to any part of the world especially in western world countries considered more advanced and developed, is what most diplomats in town admit to me unhesitatingly. Only, unlike in the western world which has learnt to live with urban crime pragmatically and realistically, in India when such things happen we ?climb the steeple to piss on the people? and scream from tree-tops with front page banner headlines under the mast head, telling the world how shiningly we view these matters.
Consequently, it is necessary to draw attention to some safety tips which if adhered to and practised, may help those in the vulnerable category to ensure a better degree of their own safety. To start with, it is necessary for the female of our species to be conscious and aware of their extra vulnerability which enjoins on them to be careful, and to keep safety at the back of their mind while drawing up their daily routine.
For threats or obscene calls on telephone, contact the police forthwith the caller can be tracked. Use external lighting at your house, to discourage the prowler or a peeping-tom. Remember to draw your curtains shut when darkness falls and the house insides are lit. Don't allow entry to a stranger/ visitor when alone most incidents of rape often occur within one's home.
Make plans to get home safely, before you step out. Avoid being alone in a public place. When this is unavoidable, shy away from dark and lonely bus stops or deserted places at times resorted to as shortcuts. The longer way round via well lit roads is safer. Walk down the middle of the pavement rather than a shrubbery, or dark doorways where a miscreant can be lurking. Always face on-coming traffic to reduce the risk from kerb-crawlers this would save you from being taken unawares by snatchers, grabbers, molesters, and other likely attackers.
It helps to look confident and purposeful, keeping one's head high and eyes up, shoulders back and stride steadily. Always be alert, keep looking and listening. When you sense you're being followed, cross the road to walk on the other side. If the stalker persists, head for a busy public place, a well-lit house or the nearest police booth, police station for shelter and help. Do not forget to note the vehicle registration number of the kerb-crawler or the snatcher.
It helps to have right footwear. While shoes have their use in self defence, flight is always preferable to a fight. Do not respond to comments passed by trouble makers, and avoid eye contact with strangers, lest it be interpreted as provocative. If confronted, simply walk away. Keeping a shrill whistle or self-defence stunning spray handy invariably helps. If you regularly work late, change your route home to avoid attracting attention as an easy target. Make it a practice to let someone know where you are going and how and when you expect to arrive, or return, so that an alarm can be raised if you fail to turn up. Beware of excess alcohol that impairs your judgement. Never accept a lift from a stranger, and definitely not from one who claims he operates a private taxi.
When driving alone in your car at night, make sure you have your windows rolled. And keep you cell phone handy to dial up Police Control at 100 or the Women's Helpline when in distress.
In the unfortunate event of an assault, attack, or crime, lose no time in reporting to the police, get yourself medically examined at the nearest hospital and seek the attention of a woman police officer. Remember some identifying feature of the attacker, molester or the rapist tattoo, scar, birthmark and the like. Avoid any tranquilizer or alcohol till after you've made your statement.
For single women travellers/ tourists arriving in the middle of the night, the advisory is to arrange in advance to be met at the airport/ railway stations or the ISBTs by the host, known acquaintance or the pre-arranged place (hotel) of stay; and where this has hurdles, to travel in company, or to engage an authorised public service vehicle (taxi and the like) jointly with co-travellers preferably in a group, and never to venture alone at night.
Books to read before your India travel. These are easy read books, will enrich your travel with some insiders knowledge.
REMEMBER to inform your bank that you travel to India lest they freeze your card.
Only bring $50 or $100 denomination notes of series later than 2003.
Lower denomination notes and earlier series fetch inferior rates.
For bringing small gifts, recommended is pens to be distributed to street children in rural areas, who love these gifts.