Let us face the harsh truth- no woman in India is ever 100% safe. Every Indian female from age 2 to 82, has encountered something that wasn’t really pleasant. This is sad but true. As more and more women are getting out of their houses to work, their safety is also being compromised. Mischievous souls lurk in all kinds of dark corners. And although woman empowerment is a great thing, it also means that the lurkers now have more targets.
The crimes against women in the country are increasing at a horrifying rate. According to RTI, the number of crimes against women from March 2018 to June 2018 was 76416, while the total number of crimes in the entire year of 2016 was 49262. This gives us an estimate of how quickly things are escalating.
Now, this does not mean that women should stay inside their houses at all times. Women have all the right to do what they want in life. They are, in no way, less competent than men, and every field of work is filled with women pioneers in it. We are a progressive society and we want our women to be shoulder-to-shoulder with men in every walk of life. However, women still are more vulnerable to lechery, because of our genetic differences.
Self-defense is an important survival skill everyone should know. The world isn’t as safe as it seems. One needs to be on high alert at all times because miscreants come when they are least expected. You don’t have to be a ninja to know self-defense. However, there are some basic self-defense techniques that anyone can learn, and use when the time comes.
But before we talk about the real action moves, here are a few basic self-defense tips for women to make use of in dangerous situations:
1. Trust your instincts
Its a miracle of evolution that living beings know instinctively when they are in danger. Humans too have this sixth sense, and it never lies. So if your instinct is trying to tell you something, listen to it. If your instincts tell you that a person isn’t who he seems to be, then STAY AWAY. Unexplained goosebumps in an outwardly normal situation are a signal for you to get out of there.
Sometimes, your instincts may make you feel like you’re being paranoid. But many a time this paranoia is what saves lives. And honestly, what others think about you is nowhere near as important as your safety is. So trust your instincts at all times.
2. Invest in a personal weapon
Having a little weapon concealed on your bodice will always make you feel safe. Your weapon doesn’t necessarily have to be a gun or something equally lethal. You could carry a small pocket knife, a chili or pepper spray, or even a whistle. This weapon will be something that will delay and scare your attacker, giving you enough time to get out of the situation.
If you cannot buy a weapon, turn the things you have into a weapon. Sometimes car keys, your stilettos, and deodorants can be amazing weapons. Also, there are a lot of safety apps both on iTunes and Google Play store that you can download. Most of these apps are sirens or whistles that you can use when adrenaline takes away your scream. Many of these apps also alert your friends about your whereabouts and send them S.O.S. messages.
3. Keep a close one informed about your location
It is always important to have someone in the know when you are going out. This is especially for if you have to travel alone at odd hours. It doesn’t have to be someone from your family (if it is a discreet night out after curfew). But make sure to inform someone of your whereabouts, someone you trust and who can help you get out of a bad situation.
It will also be helpful if you tell them who you are going with and what time you will be back. A pro tip- when going by cab, make your trusted person book the cab for you. This way they will know exactly where you are and when you will reach.
There are many apps that allow you to share your location with your loved ones and help them track your movements. Install apps like these and have some people in the know, all the time.
4. Walk confidently and on high alert
Miscreants often look for targets that are easy to subdue. If you are distracted, scared or look vulnerable, you are the perfect target. Learn how to stay on high alert outside your house. Maintain the facade of a R.A.W. agent even if you don’t know how to throw a simple punch. Walk confidently, do not slouch, and keep your eyes and ears open. If someone is bothering you, let them know in a clear and confident voice. Your courageousness will make you an impossible target.
The most important thing is, keep your distance from strangers, even friendly ones when you are in a deserted place. Crimes happen in places with the least witnesses. So make sure that all your senses are working double-time in remote places, which brings me to my next point.
5. Do not stay for too long in deserted places
Isolated and remote places are the best crime spots. Parking lots after dark, stairwells (because people don’t believe in fitness), basements and empty buildings; all these places are red flags to your safety. So try to not stick around in such places for more time than necessary.
Do not take the stairs if you don’t see anyone taking them. If there is no one in your office building during overnight hours, make sure that an old trustworthy guard is in your vicinity and tell him to drop you till your vehicle/cab afterward. Whenever you are alone in a deserted parking lot, make sure you are not being followed. If you are, go back and tell a guard or an officer nearby to see you off. Better paranoid than dead!
Another important thing: always check your car before you sit in it. Check the back seat and under the seats, and sit only if it is the way you left it. Once buckled in, leave ASAP. Do not loiter around.
Now that we have covered the theory, let’s come to the practical part of self-defense. Here are a few basic defense moves that every girl/woman can learn and keep herself safe with:
6. Hit the bulls-eye
One’s eyes are the most vulnerable part of their body. So when you are attacked, try to do as much damage as you can to the attacker’s eyes. You can use your fingers, knuckles or anything sharp (car keys, bobby pins, etc.) to gouge, poke or scratch their eyes out.
You can also use your pepper spray to spray on the attacker’s eyes. If you don’t have one, a deodorant will have the same effect. Or if you can, just throw some dust towards his eyes.
7. Strike the groin
The groin is another sensitive and vulnerable part of the body. So if you are being grabbed or attacked, use all your strength and land a kick to the attacker’s groin. You can use your foot or your knee for this, whichever you can. But trust me, a power-packed kick to the groin will make him wish he had never gone after you, especially if you are wearing heels.
(Note: You can also land a kick on his knees. This will momentarily incapacitate the attacker and give you some advantage).
8. Use your elbow
Your elbow is one of the hardest and strongest parts of your body, so use it to your advantage. Use your elbow with all your strength to hit your attacker’s stomach, face, eye or neck. This will surely make the attacker cringe away from you and you can run.
Make sure to engage your core and put all your power behind the elbow to cause maximum damage.
9. Smash his nose
If your attacker approaches you from the front, always go for his face first, especially the eyes and nose.
All self-defense instructors swear by this nose-smashing technique: when the attacker approaches you, lock your wrist and bend your palm backward so that the heel protrudes out. Now use all your power to smash the heel upward to his nose. If you are doing it right, 9 times out of 10 you will break their nose or make it bleed.
10. Pinching Power
If you are not in a position to kick or punch someone, pinch them. Pinching can be a big annoyance, and painful if you pinch the right places. The best places to pinch your attacker are the groin, near the armpit, the area below the nose and above the upper lip, the nipple (gross) and behind the knee. These places are highly sensitive to pain and pinching these places can cause them real discomfort.
Pro tip- do not pinch like you generally do. Pinch your attacker by holding their skin between your finger and a finger knuckle. Skin being pinched against a hard surface (the knuckle) will cause them extra discomfort.
11. Use your weapon
If you have anything that you can swing or strike with use it. Pencils, umbrellas, car-keys, bobby pins, heels, long purses, spiked shoes- all these can be used as self-defense weapons. Make the best use of whatever you have. Show your attacker that you won’t go down without a fight.
Whenever using your weapon, make sure you strike the right places. Like I explained above- face, groin, armpits, genital areas and the back of the knees are the most vulnerable parts of the body, so hit these.
If all else fails, scream. Fill your lungs with as much air as you can and scream loud. Do not dismiss this self-defense tip away just because you are in a deserted place. Just keep screaming. There HAS to be someone in the vicinity who will come to see what is going on. Your scream will either call witnesses or make your attacker run for his life.
Self-defense is not martial arts. It is just a survival skill that everyone should have regardless of whether they will ever use it or not. Self-defense is a skill as basic as cooking or tying your shoelaces. So do give it some time. You can enroll in a self-defense class, or attend free workshops in your school or workplace. If not, you should at least learn a few basic moves off YouTube or articles like these. You may never have to use them (and really, we hope that you don’t have to), but it is always better being safe than sorry!