Staying safe in the City

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.


  1. What a commentary on the state of Society in Delhi. Women having to live in a state of siege!

  2. Where can you find pepper spray in Delhi? I don't think you can find it in the regular shops.

    It is really unfortunate that people feel they can pounce on any woman. It is even more unfortunate that some pseudo intellectuals think that we should abolish death penalty so that such criminals can enjoy the comforts of jail. All of us know that influential people don't have a problem in jail. We need to instill fear in the hearts of criminals, so that they never ever dream of committing a crime.

  3. You should be able to find one in pharmacies. They are supposed to keep them, though I've always returned empty handed from there. Ordering online is the best option.

  4. The Judiciary should award capital punishment to the rapists involved in the Damini case, as a precedent.
    But would they?

  5. Nice post! Women must also learn martial arts....!

  6. Well, when the moment comes, it's about fight or flight. Every one knows how to fight, but it all depends on the adrenaline level at that instant.

  7. Its truly a matter of concern when a citizen has to feel helpless and take self measures to protect oneself. God forbid the increased insecurity shouldn't force people to think of having arms to protect themselselves as they do it in the U.S. And we have seen the result too. It is the duty of all those who have been entrusted to provide safety and security to the Citizens.

    During peaceful times, the public and NGOs should discuss and chalk out measures to address some of the evils in the Society.

    National Cadet Corps (NCC) is the third line of Defence. They are well trained. Every College has a NCC Wing. These wings can be entrusted to have regular evening beats.

    There are many such measures that can be thought of rather than taking individual measures that may not be feasible or practical.

  8. Yes, I agree. The onus of creating that atmosphere of security falls on the police. But, the present scenario regarding the law and order situation has forced people to take individual measures. NGOs can help, public organizations can help, but one should be self-dependent, especially when it comes to your own safety.

    I hope the situation does not go so bad as to justify the use of arms and weapons.

  9. I think my comment got lost.
    All these assaults on women are enough to scare anyone.Your tips are very well chosen--such care on one's own part will go a long way.

  10. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention!
    Thank you Indu Ji :)

  11. this is a very informative post. i am sure, many are not aware of these helpline numbers.

    the whole situation is quite disturbing. this is not the world we would like to see. but then again, we don't have too many options. it's better to be on guard.

  12. Exactly! Better to be safe than sorry.

  13. Its a shame that India's own capital is not safe. That shows where the politicians reside, the safety is compromised. Everyone can get away with everything.

    Nevertheless, we need to take care of ourselves, and be alert. I am a frequenter in Delhi and have to be sure when travelling after dark about my safety. Great tips, the phone engagement particularly. Sometimes we get so engrossed in public areas on the phone that we make ourselves vulnerable, in any part of the world let alone Delhi.

    great post

  14. Thank you for the appreciation SJ. It is indeed shameful that the National Capital Region is in the most pathetic state when it comes to the safety of women. Wonder what kind of image of 'developing India' we're portraying to the world.


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