Being stalked? Shout loudly to attract attention

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 03, 2013 07:50 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) What should you do when faced with a stalker in an underground parking lot or a dark alley? This is a question faced by a majority of women who step out of their homes every day. The answer is don't try and run: Stop and shout out a loud "No" to attract attention.

Experts at a day-long workshop on women's safety here Saturday gave self-defence tips, created awareness on abuse and violence, safety measures to be taken at ATMs, malls and Metro stations and how to raise an alarm through a mobile and in public when faced with harassment.

Organised by the International Institute of Security and Safety Management (IISSM), the workshop attracted working women from corporate houses and students, as well as homemakers.

Ruchi Kaul, physical instructor with the IISSM, said safety measures like checking out who is near your car every time you go to the parking lot and taking only well lit roads can go a long way in protecting women on the move.

"When a person tries to grab you from behind, instead of trying to free yourself, it is always better for you to grab his head or hair in order to startle him," she said.

Cautioning against date rape, she said: "When you go to parties, never take a drink from strangers, or better still never drink with strangers or accept a drink from a waiter, go and get a drink for yourself."

"Your family and friends should always be aware of who you are going out with," she added.

She said in cases of car-jacking if the abductor is trying to force a woman to drive then she should crash the car in a crowded place in order to attract the police or the public.

On ATM robberies, her tip was: avoid ATMs which are at secluded and lonely places and try not to access them between 8 p.m. and midnight as most such robberies take place at that time.

The workshop also explored concepts of cyber safety with the internet becoming a major part of people's daily lives.

"Change passwords every month, be alert to any changes in settings of your social networking sites or e-mail accounts," said cyber crime expert Col. (retd) Vishu Sikka.

Sikka listed certain basic safety measures like virus scans and disabling pornographic pop-ups for the safety of women in the cyber world.

"Do not reveal information about yourself on the social media and always make attachments you send password-protected," he added.

According to another cyber expert, Major (retired) Bikram Singh, only one in 20 people report incidents of sexual assaults. "This way it is not only men who are to be blamed but also women as they do not report such crimes".

"Age is no bar for sexual assaulters. So we should try to correct deviancy at the earliest stage," Maj. Singh said, explaining the psychology of a sexual offender.

According to R. K. Sinha, executive chairman of the IISSM, "in view of the increasing crime against women, it is important that they are taught the basics of self-protection and psychological profiles of the offenders".

Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R.C. Sharma said the fast-changing demography of cities like Delhi and Mumbai, the floating population and advanced communications are adding to the problem.

"Changing lifestyle is another factor leading to rising crime graph against women," he said.

Said Priya, an employee with the Tata Consultancy Services: "I have been working in Delhi for quite a number of years and face daily harassment in public transport as well as Malls and shopping arenas."

"It is very important to know the basics of self-defence in both the real and virtual world," she told IANS.

Parinika, a student, said as a youngster she found it very useful to know the legal recourses available to her and how to defend herself in adverse circumstances.

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