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Fighting back fear
- No pepper spray, but kicks & pins aplenty as girls resolve to take on tormentors

The Delhi gang rape victim’s death has given new life to debates on women’s safety. But girls in Ranchi and Jamshedpur know that only talk won’t do. Ranchi girls are picking up gizmos and skills to arm themselves against molesters. But Jamshedpur girls are relying on martial arts alone. And no, pepper spray hasn’t hit Jharkhand markets yet, finds out The Telegraph

RANCHI

Threat perception

When a city downs shutters at 8pm, it makes sense for a woman coming home late from work or a movie to be forearmed, even if she is riding pillion on her husband’s bike. At all hours, public transport — buses, autos and trekkers — involves staring, elbow groping and comments. Biker catcalls and groping near girls’ colleges are regular affairs. Walking home from a late-night plex show is a strict no-no even if you stay 100 metres down the street

Combat course

Gadgets: Metal crow clips, punching gloves, nunchaku and small scissors

Skills: Martial arts such as karate, judo and taekwondo taught in schools

What works & how well

Metal crow clip

Deceptively dainty, it doubles up as a mini dagger. Sells from cosmetic stores near Plaza Chowk and on Main Road for Rs 10-Rs 15 each. Available in many colours but black is the pop pick

Plus: Handy for user, attacker gets a painful prick

Minus: Inadequate against a gang of tormentors

Voice vote: “The metal crow clip is my best friend. Thanks to it, I can move around in buses and autos without fear. I also carry safety pins and a small knife. I’ve also grown nails,” Shivani Singh, second-year mass communication student, St Xavier’s College

Punching gloves

Strongly padded and made of calf leather, useful to hit an attacker full on the face. Sells from sports goods shops on Main Road and PP Compound near Sujata Chowk for Rs 450 per piece

Plus: Used right it will give attacker broken teeth, bleeding nose and a black eye

Minus: Impractical to wear gloves always or reach out for them when attacked. Plus, punching needs trained skill and strength. We are not born Mary Koms

Voice vote: “A group of girls visited my shop and bought 10 punching gloves saying they were learning self-defence,” Angad Bhatia, owner of United Sport and Scientific on Mahatma Gandhi Road

Nunchaku

Traditional weapon that fits easily inside a handbag or tote. A wooden nunchaku costs Rs 100 while its metal variant Rs 160. Available at sports goods shops on Main Road, PP Compound near Sujata Chowk.

Plus: Small, handy but deadly when used. Attacker will be left bleeding and yelping

Minus: A girl, when attacked, may lack sharp reflex needed to wield a nunchaku

Voice vote: “It’s a device which we carry in our bags. It is handy and quite effective,” Ritika Jha, third-year history honours student of St Xavier’s College

Martial arts

Most reputable ICSE and CBSE schools have self-defence classes for girls. Plus, private training centres are mushrooming for college girls, professionals and even homemakers

JAMSHEDPUR

Threat perception

Industrial belt equals more money in the pockets of men, more bikes, cars and their corollary, teasing. Women riding two-wheelers get chased and teased by youths. Auto drivers leer at college girls. Jeans and skirts attract sexually explicit comments. Still, girls move about in scooters and cars, throng markets and street food joints and yes, flaunt jeans. But public transport isn’t safe. Still, there’s no nightlife for girls and commuting distance is less, which cut down risks

Combat course

Attack is the best defence, says the city, banking on martial arts courses to bail girls out

Reputable all-girls cradle Sacred Heart

Convent School has its karate classes since over two decades. Now, Jamshedpur Women’s College will train its students and teachers in karate on campus

AUTHORITYSPEAK: “Women are unsafe. Martial arts are the best way through which girls can help themselves. No one can be a black belt in a month, so we will teach basic defence techniques,” Shukla Mahanty, principal

Missing ammo

No store in any of the two biggest cities in Jharkhand sells pepper spray, considered most effective for use against a single attacker or a group

Shops in the capital and industrial capital said there was little awareness and no demand

“We don’t stock pepper spray as there’s no demand,” Gokul Kumar of Kangan Stores, Bistupur

“About three months ago I had enquired about pepper spray. But I couldn’t get it anywhere. Your body language should be proper, you shouldn’t indulge in unnecessary activities and reach home just after work,” Sanchari Dutta, a second-year student of Karim City College

OUR VERDICT: Two steps forward, one step back. A society that looks the other way when a girl is teased has given birth to aggressive Shivani and scared Sanchari

Text by Arti S. Sahuliyar and Antara Bose;
Pictures by Hardeep Singh