I returned to Delhi two weeks back. There is an element of paranoia in the evening breeze of the city. The other day I had to take an auto-rickshaw to get back to college. It was barely six in the evening but my heart was beating like a drum. It's not like I'm faint hearted, I can travel on my own and take care of myself. But a few days back, a friend of mine was walking on the street and two men on a bike tried to snatch her phone from her. She managed to save it, but the incident left it's impact. The city is merciless and you can't trust any corner. Staying safe is number one on the priority list.
I managed to scramble a list of some things you can do to keep yourself secure:
1. Carrying pepper spray, chilli powder or in extreme circumstances, deodorant. Come on women, walk to that pharmacy and buy a can of mace. Or order one online. How hard can it be? Or is it just laziness? Or denial?
2. Being alert. Not letting yourself get involved in phone/laptop/book or conversation. Pay attention to your surroundings. If using public transport, pay attention to what the driver and co-passengers are up to. If walking on the street, avoid letting yourself into dark corners or places where you'd be suspectible to harassment. When walking alone, paying attention is of the utmost importance. That text or phone call can wait.
3. If possible, carry a bulky bag. It intimidates people and can be used as a weapon.
4. Layer your clothes. I'm not recommending wearing burqas, but, a pair of leggings beneath that skirt or a scarf wrapped around your neck would do well to deter stalkers.
5. Create a scene. Scream, shout, threaten. No person who has ill intentions on his/her mind would like to draw attention to him/her self.
6. Looking confident and in control. I cannot stress this point more. People are quick to take advantage of a damsel in distress. So, even if you are on the verge of becoming one, never let it get to your face and bearing. I am horrible at remembering addresses and directions and prone to getting lost on every other trip I make outside. I'd like to believe that there are other women out there who too feel lost or out of place at times. And it is situations like these when you look most vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation. The trick here is to maintain your composure no matter what. Walk as if you own the place. Ask for directions, ask questions, but don't let the panic get to your voice.
7. Don't hesitate to call the police, security guard or the helpline numbers. They've been installed to help you.
Helpline number for Women: 1091 & 011-24121234In addition to this, Delhi Police has a whole list of helpline numbers for women in different parts of the city. http://www.delhipolice.nic.in/home/helpline/helpline.aspx