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Why Should I Carry Pepper Sprays? Is Being Woman A Crime?

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By Sumedha Bharpilania:

“Now listen to me very carefully. Here’s a can of pepper spray and you will make sure that you carry it with yourself wherever you go. Put it in your bag and do not ask me questions. Oh and here’s a Swiss knife that you should keep. Stop making faces as this is for your safety. We are not paranoid parents, just concerned.
These were my mother’s emphatic words when I arrived in the capital in the month of January. This paranoia, or so I would like to believe, was induced by the horrific gang rape that occurred in Delhi on the 16th of December, 2012. I felt like an armed solider as I carried these contraptions with me, thinking that the situation would become better and hoping that I would not need these things in the long run. Time has flown, everything is pretty much the same, but the hope lingers.

pepper spray

I have to admit that I detest calling myself a feminist, as for some reason or the other; it is a label I am not entirely proud of. The number of females (and males) who have started to brand themselves as feminists do so without realizing the enormity of the concept. But I cannot bring myself to deny the fact that I am somehow conditioned to think along the lines of a woman who would ideally be known as a staunch believer of feminism. And that probably is the reason why issues concerning the fairer sex get all my attention. Every time I type the word ‘women’ into Google, ‘women’s safety’ is one of the first things it decides to show me. Upon clicking on the aforementioned option, I am introduced to a plethora of websites which offer tips on how we could protect ourselves from the prying hands of a dangerous male. Of late, during my online shopping sprees, I often end up discovering the several pepper sprays available in the market, most of which promise to be strong enough to knock out an attacker. I would then primarily like to question why these cans are mostly pink in colour when the act associated with them is supremely violent. But then that is a different story altogether.

The feasibility of these safety devices has baffled me time and again. And then there is also this inherent fear in the minds of most women- “Will I be able to procure the pepper spray which lies deep inside some corner of my bag, just in time to blind my attacker? Will the hair-clip cum knife prove to be useful or will it end up harming me instead?” What appals me is the fact that we live in a society where instead of combating the problem of rape, the rape culture to be specific, we advocate means by virtue of which women can keep themselves secure.

No, I do not want to carry pepper sprays and pocket knives to protect myself when I walk on the streets of the capital or any city for that matter. I want men to understand that I have committed no crime by being a woman. I want them to understand that I am a free citizen with certain rights, just like them, and they therefore are not supposed to harm me. I have done nothing wrong. I am not living in a forest inhabited by wild animals, so why do I need weapons to keep myself safe?

02zzdevices
Source: The Telegraph – Calcutta

I believe that the problem lies in the fact that women have been perceived as weak and subordinate since time immemorial. Rape is all about asserting power more than anything else. Rape, more often than not is all about blaming the victim and making ridiculous statements such as “Well, she asked for it.”

We have countless debates on equality of genders, so why don’t we come up with a tit for tat-like solution? If skirts cause rape, we should probably ask men to stop wearing boxers, shorts and vests as we shall then have every reason in the world to rape them. I would then suggest that men also carry these weapons with them all the time. What if women are overpowered by their lust one fine day and decide to rape them? Males should also make sure they are protected. And if you are doubtful of the physical power that females possess, you probably have never heard of Wonder Woman and her embodiments in our society.

It all zeroes down to one question: Why should we ask girls to protect themselves and not ask men to stop raping girls? But then, I believe we have a long way to go before we see the day when people finally understand this simple concept. Sigh, I should probably brace myself with my stun gun now, as the naysayers are coming.

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You must be to comment.
  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Your Article is pretty ridiculous and out of touch of realism. If to sound fancy and show off your linguistic skills were your purpose, you have succeeded beyond doubt. But sorry to say I pity that you take such sensitive topics to practice and display your writing skills.
    Having said that, I know you will instantly create a so called male chauvinist image of me and declare me product of patriarchal set up of your society, which I believe is never the case.

    Firstly, there is nothing wrong with your parents suggesting you pepper spray or swiss knife. If you suggest you should nt carry them because your don’t have any feelings to harm anyone, than what next, would your suggest that I throw away the locks and other security system from my house just because I am honest and not a thief myself !!!!
    Taking precautions, by keeping spray, knife or learning fighting classes or by any other means is not an unwise step. But to ignore such efforts of securing your life is definitely very naïve.

    Now think, if I wear 1 kg of Gold on my head on a deserted street and some robber robs the gold, What would be the first thing you would say ? Anyone will say “ Were you a fool to carry 1 kg gold at night in deserted road “ ?
    So pls understand fighting for your rights is one thing and making yourself secure another. Don’t mix the two.

    Lastly, males and females have different bodies and they think differently. If they were exactly same and there was no difference between than things would have been be exactly as how you have envisaged i.e. Women would also be raping men in equal numbers. But it is not just in humans, but most of the animal species, that male tend to sexually dominate the female. I have never seen a cow roaming around and searching for a bull for mating. Its always the other way round. Of course I will also add that animals aren’t as absurd as some pervert men are, but that’s another thing.

  2. Raj

    Look, if you get around using LOGIC with CRAZY people and animals, tell me about it. If not, then stop victimizing yourself and take care.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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