Today in class we applauded a girl for being the first in our batch to use pepper spray.
She was on her way home when two creeps began to follow her, singing and leering. They cut across her path a few times giggling to themselves. When it finally got too much, she turned around and sprayed both of them in the face. One fell to his knees clutching his eyes.
The applause was spontaneous. It was a moment of victory for almost all of us. Victory over the old man who flashed (his ‘maliness’) to a group of young school-girls, some as young as 10 years old. Over the young man who gropped at a girls butt when her parents weren’t around and then said “Maine kya kiya?” (What did i do?). Victory over the saddness with which the mother said to her tearful daughter “yeh to hota hi reheta hai beta…” (This happens child…). Victory over the drunkard who kept bumping against a girl in a crowded bus, when she couldn’t move away. Over every single person who’d ever thought of harassing a girl. Victory over the countless times we’ve had someone brush past us, leer at us and start singing the minute we pass by. It was a moment of pride, because suddenly, we all felt strong and empowered. It felt really, really good.
Some things to generally keep in mind (we discussed these in class):
In a bus, stick your elbows out if you feel the need. You can use your knees too, if the need arises.
If you feel even a little uncomfortable, your pepper spray should be out, in your han,d ready to use.
Walk confidently. People who look unsure are more often the target of rapists.
Do not go into empty parking lost (especially basements) alone.
Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself. Specially if you feel you might get support. Look him straight in the eye. You can scare the guy off!
Always remember the most sensitive part of a man’s body. So you know exactly where to attack.
Stay Alert. Potential attackers are less likely to try anything if you seem aware of where you are and what’s going on around you.
If you think you’re in a lonely area or are being followed, take out your mobile, call one of your parents or a responsible friend and talk about how they’ll be there in a few minutes to pick you up. It should deter an attacker.
Always walk against the traffic. This is to make sure that no one is able to sneak up on you from behind.
Most importantly, Always Trust Your Instinct. If you feel something’s wrong, chances are, something IS wrong.