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Prevention of Violence Against Women

Acid victims' photo shoot draws attention in India

This just in from AP:

Acid victimNEW DELHI (AP) — A fashion photo shoot featuring five victims of acid attacks is drawing wide attention in India. While the country keeps no official statistics on acid attacks, there are regular reports in the media of attackers targeting victims to disfigure or blind them, often because of spurned sexual advances.

The 41 photos show 22-year-old Rupa and four friends laughing and striking playful poses while wearing some of her fashion designs.

"I told them to be natural. I didn't do any makeup or editing. I told them, you look beautiful and you have to be the way you are," said the photographer, Rahul Saharan, who volunteers with the Stop Acid Attacks charity and is working on a documentary about acid victims. "They are very confident, so it was not too hard for me."

The photos have been shared widely since being posted Aug. 8 on the Facebook page run by the group, and have also been picked up by TV stations and newspapers.

The joy and confidence the five women display defy the horrific stories they tell.

Rupa's face was doused with acid when she was 15 years old by a stepmother unwilling to pay her marriage expenses. The wedding was called off. The photo shoot has brought in funding that will enable her dream of opening a boutique to come true.

Laxmi, now 22, was also 15 when she was attacked by her brother's 32-year-old friend after she refused his marriage proposal. Earlier this year, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama presented her with the International Women of Courage Award for campaigning against such attacks.

Ritu, 22, was attacked by her cousin during a property dispute. Sisters Sonam, 22, and Chanchal, 17, were asleep when acid was poured over them by a group of men who had been harassing them in their village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

In all five cases, the girls' attackers were convicted, though such crimes in India often go unpunished.

Some 1,500 acid attacks are reported worldwide every year, according to the London-based group Acid Survivors Trust International, though it says the actual number is likely higher. India passed a law last year severely limiting sales of acid, but Stop Acid Attacks said it has since counted at least 200 attacks.

 

Acid Survivors Trust International -

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Wearables that Want to Keep Women Safe

This article by Rebecca Hiscott is reprinted in its entirely because the ramifications are so important to protecting women from assault:

In December of 2012, a 23-year-old New Delhi woman and her 20-year-old male companion were returning home from an evening movie when they were lured onto a bus by a group of young men. The six men proceeded to beat the man into submission and take turns raping the woman, who eventually died from internal injuries sustained during the brutal attack.

Half a world away, in Amsterdam, Herman Veenstra was sickened by the news. Reading a Dutch newspaper article about the event, he was struck by a passing mention that in Amsterdam an average of two women each day report a sexual assault, and that police estimate the actual incidence of sexual assault is much higher.

"I was shocked by the statistic, but I was even more shocked when I realized this is not publicly known," Veenstra said. "The media doesn't write about these incidents on a daily basis. Apparently it's not worth an article anymore."

That same week, Veenstra's daughter gave a presentation at her school arguing that women in Amsterdam should be allowed to carry self-defense sprays like Mace, which is currently not permitted.

The two events prompted Veenstra, the CEO and cofounder of Dutch tech startup Everfind, to consider how technology might be able to give women a swift and legal way to call for help during a violent assault. He and a team of eight engineers, app developers, and marketing experts began to develop Safelet, a $129 connected bracelet that lets the wearer send out an alert to friends, family, and police during an attack. It's currently collecting funding on Indiegogo.

The device uses a Bluetooth low energy connection to sync to an app on the wearer's smartphone. The app lets the wearer decide who she wants to notify in case of an emergency: friends, family members, the police, or the "Safelet community," a group of Safelet users who agree to field emergency calls from other wearers. To activate the Safelet, the wearer must press two buttons, one on either side of the bracelet—a feature designed to cut down on false alarms, Veenstra said.

When the device is activated, the user's "guardian network" is notified of an emergency. Meanwhile, the app activates the user's smartphone microphone to record the incident. The app can also transmit the wearer's location and a recording of the incident to the police; in that case, one of the wearer's "guardians" would also call the police and indicate the location of the attack.


The geolocation feature is of particular importance in Europe, Veenstra said. Currently, emergency services in Europe are not permitted to use geolocation to zero in on a caller's location, meaning it's up to the caller to provide that information.

"If you call the police, the first question they will ask is, 'Where are you?'" Veenstra said. In the United States, in contrast, 911 operators can immediately pinpoint your location when you place an emergency call.

Safelet is hardly the only protection-oriented item out there. The wearable technology market could be worth as much as $5 billion this year, according to some estimates, and so far that market has concentrated mainly on smartwatches and fitness trackers. But now, a new crop of wearables is surfacing, and they’re taking aim at the largely underserved personal safety market.

There's First Sign, which offers a $95 hair band or hair clip that use a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer to detect head impacts indicative of physical assault, then activates a microphone that records the incident while the wearer's smartphone puts out a call to the police. There's Cuff and Artemis, two competing lines of connected jewelry pieces that sync with a user's smartphone via Bluetooth to alert police and family members when the wearer encounters danger. There's Bembu, a FitBit-like bracelet currently fundraising on Indiegogo that promises similar safety functions, although its clumsily-executed campaign page doesn't inspire much confidence.

And there are a slew of others, with more likely to come. Not only are safety-oriented gadgets a lucrative new space—the Yellow Jacket, a stun-gun iPhone case, recently leveraged a successful Indiegogo campaign into a booming business—they're also serving a real and pressing need.

"A woman would most likely carry [pepper spray] in her handbag, but at the moment of an incident, it would be difficult for her to reach into her bag." Veenstra said. Safelet, like similar safety gadgets, was designed to be easier to access than a smartphone or a can of pepper spray, which would likely be out of reach during an assault.

Of course, these products can all be worn and used by men, but most of them are designed and marketed to women. But the reason for this is obvious: In most countries, women are overwhelmingly the victims of violent crimes, and street harassment is largely directed toward females as well. 

Safelet is an ambitious and much-needed product, but, like any device that relies on crowdfunding to spread the word (including other safety-oriented wearables) its main hurdle will be adoption. Will women feel inclined to purchase and sport this $95 hair clip or that $129 bracelet? By that measure, Cuff, with its range of jewelry options at a number of price points, might have the best chance of scaling up, even though its functionality is relatively limited.

But there's another, perhaps more pressing problem with these devices: They're being produced by startups. Discoverability is one thing, but the mechanics behind any startup are dicey, prone to unexpected costs and challenges that a small, perhaps amateur team can't always handle. When it comes to a personal safety device, any misstep, whether a malfunctioning microphone or an app that's easy to hack, can cost a company its reputation. And crowdfunding campaigns are plagued by the extra hurdles related to delivering rewards and keeping backers happy.

In the case of Safelet, Veenstra insisted that most of the heavy lifting has already been done. The startup has already created a bracelet prototype and has begun designing and testing out the backend functionality of the smartphone app; Veenstra sees the Indiegogo campaign as more of a way to spread the word about the device. "We are more using it to test some marketing tactics in the online space than anything else, because we are already funded," he said.

Everfind has even run the product by Amsterdam's police, who Veenstra said were "thrilled" at the prospect of a product that would allow citizens to participate in keeping the women safe—so long as their actions "fit within the overall framework of how they want citizens to behave.”


Sick At Heart - Attacks Against Women All Around the World

Pink sariThe relentless barrage of articles about women being attacked - most recently in India, in Egypt, in Pakistan - makes me sick at heart. What is it about certain cultures, certain men and certain circumstances that make attacks on women not only routine but defendable? Something has GOT to change.

There are movements that are starting to get momentum that offer "safety in numbers" like the Pink Sari Revolution but you can't have a crowd following you everywhere. And it is difficult to protect yourself, even in a group, when there is an attacking group of men - often armed police - coming at you with mal intent.

I would like to make this a forum for comments. The question is: How can women in the global community best protect themselves (aside from always packing a gun which is not always possible) from any form of attack, whether on the street or in their homes?


Too Young to Wed: The Story of Child Brides

A recent article in the New York Times told of a 6 year old Afghan girl who was going to be married off to the 17 year olf son of a moneylender. Her father coiuld not repay the $2500 loan used for mediacl care for his wife and children. As a result of the story, an anonymous doner stepped in and paid the loan so the girl can stay with her family. She is lucky, despite her continued extreme poverty.

But so many girls from over 50 countries are routinely married off, often to much older men. Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women, a group that runs various shelters in the country, told the New York Times in a previous article that poverty is the motivation for many child marriages. That’s either because a wealthy husband pays a family well for his bride, or because the father of the bride will then have one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

Stories like Naghma’s come at a slow but steady clip out of Afghanistan and many other countries, including India. In 2010, two girls, ages 13 and 14, dressed as boys and fled their elderly husbands after refusing to consummate the marriages. They made it far from their remote village, but were eventually caught by police and returned home, where they were publicly, viciously flogged. Authorities did nothing, despite the flogging being caught on tape and human-rights groups’ efforts to intervene.

Here is a trailer for the new documentary "Too Young to Wed" that explains it. Please get involved.


What is Rape Culture?

This article titled What is Rape Culture? offers a great overview of the many societal ways that rapists and rape-think occur.

“Rape culture” is a culture in which sexual violence is considered the norm — in which people aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped. The term was first used by feminists in the 1970s but has become popular in recent years as more survivors share their stories.

Check out these sections. It is sobering to think that if anything, things are getting worse with the use of social media to spread vile and shaming messages - but of course also on the other hand, prove rape behavior) Haven't we heard of some of these for years and years?

Anyone Can Be A Rapist

The Idea of "Gray Rape"

"No" Means "Yes"

Victim Blaming

Slut Shaming

Street Harassment

The Myth of Preventing Rape

Anti-Rape Wear

Rape Jokes

The "Friend" Zone

Pick up Artists

Fear of Reporting

False Rape Accusations

The Power of Celebrity

The "Promising Future" Media Narrative

Male Rape

The Lack of Attention in Minority Communities


Violence Against Women Continue in India

IMG_2439 IMG_2405Despite the August 2013 death sentences of the four adult men who raped and killed a young female student on a bus in December 2012 (sentences that have not yet been carried out, by the way) there has been another shocking attack recently in New Delhi this week.

The solution to this scourge appears to be elusive since now pundits are saying it is a cultural phenomena of men exerting influence over women. Influence? I say violence and violence should be met with swift and clear punishment or it will inevitably be met with reciprocal violence. Maybe women should be armed? Maybe vigillantism should be encouraged so at least there IS justice. Enough is enough.

Here is the latest:

NEW DELHI (AP) — A 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang-raped near a popular shopping area in New Delhi after she got lost and approached a group of men for directions back to her hotel, police said Wednesday. Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said two people were arrested after a daylong search for the suspects. Details were not immediately available.

 

The attack is the latest crime to focus attention on the scourge of sexual violence in India.

 

The woman also was robbed and beaten in the attack, which happened Tuesday near Connaught Place, Bhagat said. The woman asked the men for directions to her hotel, Bhagat said. They lured her to a secluded area where they raped her at knife-point, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The woman managed to reach her hotel Tuesday evening and the owner called police. Police were questioning several other suspects.

The problem of sexual violence in India has gained widespread attention since the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December 2012. Public fury over the case has led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking.

 

But for many women, particularly the poor, daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and the new laws have not made the streets any safer. Ranjana Kumari, director of India's Center for Social Research, said India's conservative, patriarchal traditions lead men to use rape as a tool to instill fear in women. "This mindset is not changing," she said. "It's a huge challenge."

 

Experts say the rapid growth of India's cities and the yawning gulf between rich and poor are exacerbating the problem of sexual violence, with young men struggling to prove their traditional dominance in a changing world.

 

Cultural stigmas, police apathy and judicial incompetence have long made it difficult for women to even report rapes.

 

Still, there has been a surge in the number of rapes being reported recently, suggesting women are emboldened to speak up. Between January and October last year, 1,330 rapes were reported in Delhi and its suburbs, compared with 706 for all of 2012, according to government figures.

 

Foreigners also have been targets, including a Swiss woman who was cycling with her husband in central India when she was gang-raped.

 

The cases threaten India's lucrative tourism industry. Last year, the Tourism Ministry launched an "I Respect Women" campaign to reassure travelers. Tourism accounted for 6.6 percent of India's GDP in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available.

 

___

 

Associated Press writers Chonchui Ngashangva in New Delhi and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.


New Electronic Underwear that Protects Women from Sexual Assault

This just in from CBS news. Let's hope that it works.

 

Engineering students in India have created electronic underwear they claim can protect the wearer from sexual assault.

Two of the inventors Manisha Mohan (left) and Rimpi Tripathy.

The lingerie would deliver electric shock waves of 3,800,000 volts to an attacker and features GPS. The garment can also send emergency text messages to the police. The unusual prototype was created by three Indian students at SRM University in Chennai, who wanted to combat ongoing violence against women.

Play Video

India's women revolt against a culture of rape

The protective underwear, named Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE), purportedly delivers up to 82 electric shocks to a would-be offender when pressure sensors on the item detect unwanted force, according to The Times of India.

"A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated, and the GPS and GSM modules would send an SMS (to the Indian emergency number) as well as to parents of the girl," said one inventor, Manisha Mohan.

Mohan and her two colleagues, Rimpi Tripathi and Neeladri Basu Pal, hope to begin commercial production of the device later this month. The issue of sexual assault in India has remained on the public radar since the December gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi. The victim died thirteen days after the attack. The attack sparked mass anger and demonstrations across India.

There have also been two sexual assault-related cases reported by female tourists. In the last three months, the number of foreigners traveling to India has dropped by 25 percent, according to a recent study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The number of female tourists has dropped by 35 percent, the study claimed.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Using Technology to Protect Women From Rape

IMG_2405We have been reporting on the reported rape epidemic in India in our most recent posts. Finally here is a good piece of news on the subject. Here is an excerpt of a much longer article:

Can a Wrist Watch Really Cure India’s Rape Problem?

by Feb 24, 2013 5:45 AM EST

The Indian government is developing a wrist watch equipped with GPS and a distress button. Can it help fight the plague of sexual violence?

In late January, the Indian government announced a new project to fight the rampant sexual assault cases in the country: a wrist watch. No longer just a fashion statement or functional timepiece, the accessory boasts a built-in distress button that texts friends, family and the nearest police station with the wearer’s GPS coordinates, and a video camera that captures footage when the button is hit.

India’s information technology minister, Kapil Sibal, announced the new development project a month after the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student in Delhi launched nationwide protests calling for change in the dysfunctional methods of addressing sexual violence. The briefing notes describe the project’s goal as “to develop indigenous product leveraging existing mobile spread and availability to cater to the security needs of people.” (Neither Sibal nor the government agency tasked with developing the watch responded to requests for a comment.) The watch is one of many tech-based solutions being crafted to combat rape and sexual assault by governments and tech developers across the globe. But not all activists are convinced this approach will work, and some are questioning how effective technology can be in stopping horrendous sexual assault cases like the one that shook Delhi.

Social media and smart phone software is growing into its potential to bring attention to, and even prevent, sexual assault and rape. Facebook and Twitter have been used to track sexual attacks in war zones like Syria, and to encourage prosecution in cases like Steubenville, Ohio. Hi-tech straws can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks. But it is the mobile platform that shows the most potential for combating an endemic of sexual violence across the globe.

Gail Abarbanel, founder and president of The Rape Foundation, one of the country’s oldest rape prevention and treatment centers, described the Indian project as “more like a ‘rape in progress’ alert than it is about prevention,” and says she hopes the government will turn its attention on men. “In so many of these situations, rapes could be prevented but not by the women who’s being sexually assaulted,” she said.  “Everything that’s ever been promoted to prevent rape focuses on the victim.”

Yet Abarbanel doesn’t reject the possibility of utilizing technology to combat assault. The Rape Foundation recently partnered with tech firm Possible to develop Safebook, an app they hope to release by the end of the year. Safebook aims to shift the burden to the friend, the bystander, the person that witnesses assault by creating groups and allowing them to check in on members. Its target demographic is college women, 1 in 5 of whom report being sexually assaulted during their four years on campus. Realizing this susceptible group is spending most of its time in the digital world, the partners hope to use social media campaigns to target them where they’re most comfortable—similar to campaigns that have already been successful for gay rights awareness and bullying.

As activists work on changing mindsets, the Indian government is going technical. The watch is expected to be ready mid-year and is expected to cost between $20 and $50, which is quite steep for a market like India. And in India, not all have been swept off their feet by the announcement. Many believe the country needs to rebuild its foundation of prevention methods. The biggest problem may be the apathy authorities, and even civilians, hold toward sex crimes. One of the most disturbing details to emerge in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi rape came from the woman’s companion, who said the battered pair spent 20 minutes on the side of a busy road before anyone stopped. In Delhi, a new study published by the International Center for Research on Women revealed the startling prevalence of attacks. Almost 80 percent of participants admitted to seeing a sexual assault take place, and only 16 percent said they had intervened. Crimes are rarely reported, especially in the case of young victims. In early February, the director of Human Rights Watch in South Asia announced that children who come forward after sexual abuse “are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff and other authorities.” And just this week it was revealed that Indian police failed to investigate the rapes and murders of three young sisters.

Read the full article here.


Protecting Yourself While in Your Car

This is an email I recieved from my cousin about cases that involve safety in cars, especially when you are travelling alone. I thought that it would be valuable information and am posting it here on the blog. Stay safe!

A MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

Case 1- The Abandoned Baby on the Side of the Road

While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Canton PD and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check....

"There are several things to be aware of .... gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their vehicle and get out of the car. "There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police Department where gangs are placing a car seat by the road...with a fake baby in it...waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned baby.

"Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the person -- woman -- will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If it's a man, they're usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.

DO NOT STOP FOR ANY REASON!!! DIAL 9-1-1 AND REPORT WHAT YOU SAW, BUT DON 'T EVEN SLOW DOWN. "

Case 2 - Eggs On The Windshield

IF YOU ARE DRIVING AT NIGHT AND EGGS ARE THROWN AT YOUR WINDSHIELD, DO NOT STOP TO CHECK THE CAR, DO NOT OPERATE THE WIPER AND DO NOT SPRAY ANY WATER BECAUSE EGGS MIXED WITH WATER BECOME MILKY AND BLOCK YOUR VISION UP TO 92.5%, AND YOU ARE THEN FORCED TO STOP BESIDE THE ROAD AND BECOME A VICTIM OF THESE CRIMINALS.

THIS IS A NEW TECHNIQUE USED BY GANGS, SO PLEASE INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. THESE ARE DESPERATE TIMES AND THESE ARE UNSAVORY INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL TAKE DESPERATE MEASURES TO GET WHAT THEY WANT."

 

Case 3 - Phony Unmarked Police Cars

Some knew about the red light on cars, but not the 112. It was about 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon, and Lauren was driving to visit a friend. An UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put his lights on.

Lauren's parents have always told her never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather to wait until they get to a gas station, etc. Lauren had actually listened to her parents advice, and promptly called112 on her cell phone to tell the police dispatcher she would not pull over right away.

She proceeded to tell the dispatcher there was an unmarked police car with a flashing red light on his rooftop behind her. The dispatcher checked to see if there were police cars where she was and there weren't, and he told her to keep driving, remain calm and he had back up already on the way.

Ten minutes later 4 cop cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes.

 

I never knew about the 112 Cell Phone feature, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you should not pull over for an unmarked car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a safe place. *Speaking to a service representative at Bell Mobility confirmed that 112 was a direct link to State trooper info. So, now it's your turn to let your friends know about 112. You may want to send this to every woman (and man) you know; it may save a life. This applies to ALL 50 states.


Personal Safety Plan – Be Prepared to Defend Yourself

Violence against women April is sexual assault awareness month, and we cannot turn our backs on the shocking numbers that the Bureau of Justice Statistics has reported for 2008.  In the United States alone, an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults of individuals 12 or older had occurred, and these are the cases that were reported.  Even more startling is that studies indicate 18% percent of women in this country will be raped over the course of their lifetimes.

This information is a frightening wake-up call, and every woman and girl must meet reality head on and devise a personal safety plan that she can incorporate into her daily routine.  Several components are required to make a personal safety plan effective, which includes both physical and emotional decisions based on the comfort zone of the individual. Attitude, common sense, survival instinct and the motivation to fight back are all critical factors that need to be addressed on a very personal level.  There also has to be a firm conviction that developing an individual safety plan is as critical as having a disaster emergency kit in place. This belief is not only essential, it is crucial.

Even now in the 21st century there is still doubt that a woman could actually defend herself and are rarely thought of as Xena the Warrior Princess welding a powerful weapon to combat the evil Xena_narrowweb__300x520,0 forces of the world.  That’s a man’s job right?  Women are the weaker sex, soft and feminine and not strong enough to defend herself if confronted with a potentially dangerous situation – NOT!  Women have the power within them to be strong and in control, empowered to take on whatever challenges they are faced with head on without losing their femininity.  The perception that women need to rely on a man to save the day whenever she is in trouble is ludicrous.  Unfortunately, Superman is not going to sweep down and fight the bad guys and whisk the girl away to safety.  In reality, women and girls need to become more proactive in making personal safety a part of their everyday lives. 

The first step in developing a personal protection plan is to imagine different scenarios that may place you in threatening circumstances.  Play out in your mind what would you do in the event if someone attacked you while walking to your car with your hands full of packages while looking for your keys.  If you enjoy jogging or running solo and a predator jumps at you from behind, will you be ready to react?

 

The Women’s Self Defense Federation offers a very informative article on how to avoid predators which can be found at http://aaa-selfdefense.com/avoiding-predators, and all women and girls should make the time to read it.  Here are some common sense guidelines regarding how a woman’s mindset can help prevent her from becoming a victim:

·    Always walk with confidence and with a purpose: Stand straight with your shoulders and Woman walking with confidence your head held high.  Don’t exude a “shrinking violet” posture with shlumpy shoulders and a lack of confidence.  Predators seek out potential victims who look timid and vulnerable.

·    Always be aware of your surroundings.  Your instinctual radar should be up at all times.  Avoid multi-tasking and distractions while walking from point A to point B, i.e. talking on the cell phone while fumbling for your keys in your purse. 

·    If someone gets into your personal space or is following you, look that person straight in the eye and ask “what do you want?”  Predators don’t like it when someone looks directly at them because they can now be identified.

·    If you must go to a grocery store or shopping mall at dark, park as close to the entrance as Woman in parking lot you can and always in a lighted area.  Do not park next to a van or a vehicle with someone in it with the engine running.  When leaving your car, make sure the doors are locked.  When coming out of the store, make sure you have your keys out and ready.  While loading the car with packages, put your purse in first and always look around you while placing the rest of the bags in your vehicle.  Once you are in your car, lock the doors immediately and turn on the engine.  Don’t sit there for any length of time because even if your doors are locked, it doesn’t stop a predator with a gun at your window.  Get in the car, lock the door and take off immediately.

·    Avoid walking solo in dark, isolated areas and choose a path that is well lit and trafficked.  If you must walk a dark and isolated route, carry a flashlight, a personal alarm, a charged cell phone and a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, Mace, stun gun or TASER at ALL TIMES.  Non-lethal personal protection products are affordable, compact and very effective in protecting an individual from being attacked by a predator.  These devices are very easy to use and require very little or no training and are legal within most of the 50 states.

·    If you are confronted with a potential assault, scream as loud as you can or set off your personal alarm to attract attention. Yell “I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY!!”  and start running in the opposite direction as fast as you can.   If you have a pepper spray on hand, don’t be afraid to use it.  Pepper spray is made from hot cayenne peppers. The active ingredient is called oleoresin capsicum (OC) which is derived from chilis and most effective when sprayed in the eyes of a predator.  The immediate result is severe burning of the eyes, tearing and pain, which can last up to 35-40 minutes.  Some sprays also include an indelible dye to mark the attacker. Pepper spray

·   Another effective personal defense tool is Mace, which is an irritant similar to tear gas.  Unlike pepper spray, however, Mace will not have any effect on predators that are on drugs or alcohol.  Mace® is also the brand name for personal defense and security products.

·   TASERs are more expensive than a pepper spray or Mace product, but this personal defense device is one of the most powerful non-lethal tools a civilian can own that is legal in all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.  Check local state laws on any restrictions regarding the use or possession of a Taser.  Tasers can incapacitate an attacker up to 15 feet away and can also act as a stun gun upon body contact.  The Taser is very easy to operate with a simple point and shoot mechanism with a laser light that will guarantee an accurate aim at the predator.

·   It is important that you learn more about these personal defense products and choose the one that you are comfortable with so that you are not afraid to use it when necessary. 

Women self defense ·   Learn some basic self defense techniques that are easy to remember but effective enough to escape a predator’s attack.  Self defense classes are relatively inexpensive and there are organizations who offer free self defense workshops for women and girls.  There is a great website that all young women should visit, which makes available a 20 minute long video that teaches girls how to fight back against sexual assault and abduction. Since 2006 Just Yell Fire has empowered 1 million girls in 44 countries with getaway skills and the right to live without fear of being a victim of sexual assault.

Date rape drugs are becoming a very popular method of disorienting an individual so that she will not have the ability to defend herself against a sexual assault.  The three most popular date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine.  Rohypnol

 

These drugs are powerful, dissolve quickly in liquids and take effect within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion.  If you are going out to a club, a party or even to dinner with someone you don’t know very well, you need to take these precautions to avoid becoming a victim of these date rape drugs:

· Don’t take drinks from people you don’t know 

· Open your own beverage container

· Never leave your drink unattended.

· If a drink tastes funny, pour it out.

· Don’t drink from punch bowls.

· If you feel drunk and you had no alcohol, get help immediately

· Never leave a social situation with a stranger or even an acquaintance that you don’t know very well.

 

The rule of thumb is when you are out with friends or on a date, keep your wits about you, have a charged cell phone handy, and don’t drink too much alcohol.  It is also a good idea to ALWAYS tell a friend or family member where you are going and check in from time to time.

Assault doesn’t always have to happen outside your home, and the major cause of injury to women each year is from domestic violence.  According to the American Institute of Domestic Violence, http://www.aidv-usa.com 5.3 million women are abused each year in the United States.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, do you have a safety plan in place to prepare an escape from an intimate partner’s violent episode? Do you have resources such as trusted neighbors, friends or family members who can offer you and your children a safe haven from your abuser? Visit http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/plan.shtml for more information on a step-by-step Domestic Violence Safety Plan along with a link to download a “Family Disaster Plan” worksheet.

Home invasion in the United States is also a very harsh reality and according to a United States Department of Justice report:Home invasion

  • 38 percent of assaults and 60 percent of rapes occur during home invasions
  • One in five homes undergoes a home invasion or break-in
  • There are more than 8,000 home invasions every day in North America
  • 50 percent of home invasions involve the use of a weapon; the most common weapons used are knives or other cutting instruments
  • In 48 percent of home invasions, victims sustain physical injuries
  • Victims age 60 or older make up 17 percent of home invasion victims
  • In 68 percent of home invasions, victims and the accused are strangers; in 11 percent of these cases, victims and the accused are friends, business associates, or family

Here are some recommended tips to help you prepare and defend against the threat of home invasion:

  • If your home uses hollow wooden doors rather than doors with solid cores, invest in some heavy duty locks.
  • Install security devices in windows such as alarm systems or bars.  These devices can be relatively inexpensive, and you do not have to spend a zillion dollars to secure your home.
  • Lock all entry ways such as doors and windows at all times.
  • If your front door does not have a peephole, have one installed.  Your investment will be about $30 which is worth having the ability to see who is at your door before opening it.
  • If you have some extra money to spend, install an alarm system such as ADT.  Do your homework and shop for the best deals to keep costs low.
  • It is highly recommended that you install surveillance cameras inside and outside of your home.  However, this equipment can be extremely pricey, and there are less expensive options such as dummy cameras that will give the illusion your property is being monitored.
  • If you live in a house, ALWAYS keep the front, sides and back of the property well lit when it is dark. 
  • When entering your home garage, be especially aware that no one has followed you in. Once you have determined you are alone, immediately close the garage door behind you. If someone has followed you into your garage, lock your car doors and back out immediately and drive away as fast as you can to safety. 

 

  • If you live in an apartment complex or dorm, always make sure no one follows you into the building.  Proceed to your apartment quickly and lock the door behind you. 

 

  • If your apartment, condo or dorm complex offers underground parking, try to park as close to the exit as possible in a well lit area.  Before getting out of your car, do a quick scan of your surroundings to make sure there is no suspicious activity at play.

  • Keep a personal protection device such as a pepper spray, Mace, stun gun or TASER close to reach inside and outside of your home.

 

  • If you notice any suspicious individuals in your neighborhood, alert neighbors or Neighborhood Watch groups.  If your community has an outside security company assigned to patrol your area, call them immediately to report any unusual activity.  

  • Have a discussion with your family regarding home invasions, preventative measures and escape plans in the event they become necessary. 

A well defined personal safety plan is an option that can no longer be ignored. The veracity of living in a world full of economic duress, raging unemployment, relentless foreclosures, and social apathy from too much online networking and very little human interaction clearly defines that society is becoming an increasingly hostile environment to live in.  Television shows it, the newspapers report it and statistics prove it.  We must stop sticking our heads in the sand like frightened ostriches and deal head on that it ain’t pretty out there.  We need to accept it but understand that we DO have the power to prevent the chance of ever falling victim to a ruthless crime. Women and girls must have the strength and the determination to fight back against violence without fear, embarrassment or guilt.  You don’t have to be Supergirl to defend yourself and win – awareness, preparedness, and a personal protection device will help you stay in control when circumstance puts you in a precarious situation. Strong_woman