Many Indian women turn to self-defense

Many Indian women turn to self-defense

NEW DELHI - Reuters
Many Indian women turn to self-defense

Indian women takes a self defence class in New Delhi after rape scandal. REUTERS Photo

Women in India’s capital are taking self-defense classes, snapping up pepper sprays, booking cabs with female drivers or leaving work early, all signs of growing insecurity following the brutal gang rape and murder of a student last month, Reuters has reported.

“This case really has hit the confidence of women in Delhi. We want to feel safe. So you have to learn how to defend yourself.” said Sunanda Jalote, a psychology student.

Private companies running self-defense classes in the capital say they have had a flurry of requests since the Dec. 16 attack adding that most are from female students or professional women between the ages of 18 and 35 years.

This is reinforced by the surge in bookings of taxi operator “Sakha Cab Services,” a women-only taxi service with female drivers, which says the number of cab bookings has increased by 35 percent over the last month.

For those who cannot afford private taxis or self-defense classes, pepper spray has been the answer. Many shops in central Delhi say the spray cans sell up to five times more than usual. Authorities in Delhi have announced a raft of measures to help women feel safer on the city’s streets.

These include a 24-hour helpline for women in distress and more policing on the streets. But many women say they cannot rely on India’s often gender-insensitive and under-resourced police force to ensure their security.

New Delhi, with a burgeoning population of 16 million, has the unsavory reputation of being the country’s “rape capital,” recording more rapes annually than any other Indian city.