Friday 21 December 2012

Recent Rape 'Incident' in Delhi and Tips on Safety


If India/ Delhi bashing was a sport, it may deserve its own personal Olympics! I am usually non-confrontational in nature and unless something REALLY irks me, I don't get into it. The Mayans were right. The world is ending. If it weren't would a person walk into a place of worship or an elementary school and gun down innocent people? If it weren't would heinous crimes still be committed against women? But they are. What the psychologist in me fails to understand is why when an incident happens in a 'developed' country, it is seen as an incident and the perpetrator or at most, the laws are blamed. When an incident happens in India, the same people blame the entire country! They blame the government, the police, the public, the laws, the culture, the mindset and just everything. It is not an incident anymore, it is a way of life. Which it isn't and I will explain it in the most rational way possible using statistics which are unbiased.

This is going to be a long post. The first half I need to deal with this India bashing and put the concept of violence in global perspective. If you're still hanging around till the end of the post, I will be enumerating some stuff on how one can try to be safer (tips that are useful).

These are per 1L population which is the logical way to look at because statistically that is the probability of something happening to you. But even if you want absolute numbers, USA had 85,000 rape cases in the year, smaller countries with much smaller population like UK (16,500) and Australia (18,000) fare no better. India had 22,000 with a population of 1.2 billion. The murder statistics reflect similar numbers but I think you get the picture. Yes, we can also argue that perhaps the number of reported cases is much lower in India. Ok, double the number then, it still won't change this picture. Definitions of rape also differ in some countries, but on an overall average, these numbers taken from United Nations are a decent enough reference point.

In the US, in 2010 the arrest rate for rape was 24%. In Sweden, conviction rate was as low as 10%. India has a rape conviction of 26%. The relevance of a conviction rate is that the victims feel more confident to report the crime. 

What is my point? My point is that we all know India has issues. We have poverty and gender bias and corruption amongst others. But so does every country. They have their own issues. They grapple with gun law controversies, racism, rape, mugging and countless other issues. Every country like every person, has its own baggage. So when an incident happens, let us try to see it as that. I have traveled a little. Much in my own country and a little outside it. The 2 times I felt most unsafe as a woman recently were in supposedly safe places like Bangalore (where I walked on the prime MG Road with a girl friend at 7pm) and in Spain (where we had 2 guys with us yet we felt like we were being followed and looked back at every turn of a lane).

The point is that let us not digress from the issue. The issue is that a young girl was brutalized and her offenders (whom the police caught within 12 hours) must be punished. Hard. 

My 3 point agenda on how we can provide deterrents to reduce rape incidents (anywhere in the world):
1) Fast track courts. Do not elongate the victim's suffering. Close the case and convict within a month.
2) Non-bailable warrants for offences like rape.
3) Harsher convictions than the current 8 years sentence. Rigorous imprisonment for life (I don't mind a little torture thrown in) or solitary life confinement.  

Having said all this, it is always a good idea to be safe and aware. I wrote an article a while back that may help. You can read it here. Here are some tips which are floating on the net and I do believe some of them are good.   

FYI - Through a rapist's eyes! A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle.
They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common
targets.
2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.
3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.
4] The number one place women are abducted from/attacked at is grocery store parking lots.
5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.
6] Number three is public restrooms.
7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.
8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming.
9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas,or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands. Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.

POINTS THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER:

1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk:
Can't believe it is so cold out here, we're in for a bad winter. Now that you've seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.
2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.
3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.
4] If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh - HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching
yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.
5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there.
6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible.
7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.
8] Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.
9] Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans : if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you, chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE CRAZY IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!
10] If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.
11] Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping,eating, working, etc., and just sit.
(Doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side,put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS , LEAVE.
12] A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be
hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the
passenger side floor, and in the back seat. ( DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .
b. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
c. Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)
13] ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).
14] If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!
15] As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked "for help" into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Delhi Police Anti-stalking helpline. (Obscene calls, threats, abuses) 011-27894455. I would suggest sharing this and saving this in your phones. If you could look up similar helpline numbers for your city, you'd be doing everyone a favour. 


1 comment:

Sona said...

well put