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Times are changing and with it there is a significant rise in the percentage of single women in urban India, living alone, working late and long hours. A recent survey shows that 94% of Indian women feel unsafe living or travelling alone, or staying alone in hotels in India. Of those who’ve travelled outside India, most say, they feel safe travelling or living alone in hotels in western countries!.

Street sexual harassment, molestation, and stalking are seen as a normal part of day-to-day existence that all women are expected to put up with. And even though most rapes are never reported in India, or of those reported most are not filed by the police, rape still is the fastest growing crime in India today.

There has also been an alarming increase in the number of reports of rape of women tourists in India.

While there's more social acceptance for the single woman and plenty of professional opportunities, there are safety hazards of being on your own in a big city. But there are ways to ensure you stay safe.

Finding safe rental accommodation is a problem for a single woman. Pick out an apartment in a respectable locality and in a housing society as opposed to independent houses (don't think of cost-cutting here) Do a little research on the neighbourhood before you move in -- find out who your immediate neighbours are, how well connected your home is, basic amenities etc. Look for apartments which have a proper security guard and visitor's book, instead of stand-alone houses

Though there is no reason one can’t live or travel alone, the fact is that it is might be safer for single women in India to live or travel with at least 1 or 2 other people. Often if you have a male companion, you are usually also less likely to be sexually harassed and/or molested. (We are not saying this is how it should be! It curbs women’s rights to freedom of movement and is fundamentally sexist. But it is a safety precaution that works to some degree in India

Use your sixth sense. “Sixth sense.” or “Gut instinct.”, your intuition is a powerful subconscious insight into situations and people. All of us, especially women, have this gift. Learn to trust this power and use it to your full advantage. Avoid a person or a situation which does not “feel” safe–you’re probably right.

Home invasions: A crime on the rise. The primary way to prevent a home invasion is simply to never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who’s on the other side or can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there (dressing up as a repair person or even police officer is one trick criminals use). In the event that an intruder breaks in while you’re home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray or fire extinguisher.

  • Your first line of defence. Most people think of kicks to the groin and blocking punches when they hear the term “self-defence.” However, true self-defence begins long before any actual physical contact. The first, and probably most important, component in self-defence is awareness: awareness of yourself, your surroundings, and your potential attacker’s likely strategies.

  • The criminal’s primary strategy is to use the advantage of surprise. Studies have shown that criminals are adept at choosing targets who appear to be unaware of what is going on around them. By being aware of your surroundings and by projecting a “force presence,” many altercations which are commonplace on the street can be avoided.

  • Always your best option. What if the unpredictable happens? You are suddenly confronted by a predator who demands that you go with him–be it in a car, or into an alley, or a building. It would seem prudent to obey, but you must never leave the primary crime scene. You are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured if you go with the predator than if you run away (even if he promises not to hurt you). Run away, yell for help, throw a rock through a store or car window–do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the criminal is after your purse or other material items, throw them one way while you run the other.

  • Self-defence Training.
  • It is important to evaluate the goals and practical usefulness of a women’s self-defence program before signing up. The self-defence program should include simulated assaults, with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you’ve learned.

  • Safety in Cyberspace
  • Although the Internet is educational and entertaining, it can also be full of danger if one isn’t careful. When communicating on-line, use a nickname and always keep personal information such as home address and phone number confidential. Instruct family members to do the same. Keep current on security issues, frauds, viruses, etc. by periodically referring to “The Police Notebook” Internet Safety Page.

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