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Watch out!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

From bag snatching to eve teasing, there are potential threats everywhere. Rhea Dhanbhoora tells you what to watch out for and how to keep safe in the city

We all worry at some point of time or the other about the security of ourselves and our loved ones. And for us ladies in the city, it’s definitely riskier. Even famous faces don’t have it easy. Soha Ali Khan was recently the victim of an MMS scandal (her bikini waxing session was recorded), and Mughda Godse had a cyberstalker to ward off. To make sure you don’t become victim, here are some pointers to follow:

Always be aware of your surroundings
With more women professionals in the country, you’d think it would be safer for women to travel alone. However, the instances of attacks on women don’t seem to be fading away. Dr. Komal VS runs the DARE program in Mumbai. DARE teaches self-defense and shows you how to defend yourself verbally, and avoid compromising situations altogether. Dr. Komal advises women to be aware of their surroundings at all times. She says, “Whether you’re a student, a homemaker or a working woman, you need to be prepared. With more women working and travelling alone, they have to be more aware of themselves and their surroundings. You can’t just put your head down and walk.”

 “From initial eye contact, someone can make out whether you’re an easy target. You have to ensure you’re not,” she adds. Dr. Komal gives us a few tips on self-defense:
• When you see a potential assailant coming towards you, it’s best to hold yourself with confidence even when you’re scared. Initial eye contact is very important. As soon as he sees you are not a weak target, you’ve more or less won already because most attackers will not want the hassle.
• Technique and timing are more important than just strength. If you do find yourself in the middle of a sticky situation, don’t stifle that scream, it will scare them off, or at least startle them for that split second you need to make your move.
• An elbow to the solar plexis or poking him in the eye with whatever is in your hand would give you enough time to make your escape. Use all your resources,” she emphasises. “A kick between the legs or slamming your head into his face (the nose is a sensitive area) should work. Biting is something you don’t have to be trained how to do and it would work. Do anything to throw the attacker off guard or disorient him enough for you to get away.”
• Dr. Komal advises that under no circumstances should you stick around. She says, “If there’s an opportunity to run, don’t stick around to fight.”
Bag snatchers are another thing to watch out for. “I was travelling by rickshaw, not
paying much attention because I was on the phone, when someone happened to tug at my bag,”says Deveshe Dutt. She explains how her instinctive action to pull back may not have been the most sensible one.
“My case may have been a bit of luck, but someone really desperate may have harmed me to get what they wanted. It was a bit of tug and war before I managed to grab it back.” Although Deveshe was lucky, many others are not, and it’s always best to be careful. “While travelling now, I always make sure my personal belongings are close besides me and in sight at all times. I also avoid being distracted by phone calls or chatting with the person next to me.”

Keep track of small things
Just had your phone stolen, scared that your photos and videos will be misused? It’s always better to make sure you keep your phone free of all this.
Although instances of item and identity theft are not isolated to women, ignoring the fact that they do happen is not a good idea. Even if you aren’t shopping online, you could end up with credit card problems that simple checking and caution could help you avoid.
Marisha Kirtane, who was billed for items she had never bought, says “I had to call them and make sure they recognised that I hadn’t bought those items. Since I was away so much, I wasn’t checking up on my card enough. I’m a lot more careful now that it’s already happened to me. It frightened me.”
Calling the credit card company the minute you lose it will help avoid the unnecessary hassles. If you shop online, avoid revealing your personal details; use something like a Pay Pal account to make sure your information is secure.

What to do when your bag gets stolen
An Inspector at the Khar Police station tells us to make sure you approach the police station to get the help you need in case of stolen items. The process is not all that difficult. All you have to do is file an FIR and give them a statement about what happened to you. Do remember to follow up with your complaint.

bag snatched
“I’m lucky that I managed to get my bag back when it got snatched. However, someone who is really desperate for the bag might have harmed me to get to it.”
— Deveshe Dutt

credit card stolen
“I was billed for items I never bought. Since I was away when it happened I didn’t really notice. Now, I make sure I check up on my card more often. I was really frightened by the esperience.”
— Marisha Kirtane
 

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