CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

Gender


Are Weapons of Protection safe for Women?


Introduction

Over a period of time safety of women has become a major social issue in India. Crimes against women have increased to great extent in the last few years. Rape and sexual harassment are the two most brutal crimes against women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau 38947 rape cases were reported across India in 2016. New Delhi has been reported as the city with the highest rape cases. Other crimes are also reported against women. For instance acid was thrown over the girl while she was returning back home by the boy whose proposal was refused by her. Another case was reported where a girl was stabbed twenty four times by the boy in the market after she refused to talk to him. With the increase of crime against women different weapons and instruments are introduced that women can use for their safety.

Even though the devices are available the question that arises is: can everyone afford it? The prices of the weapons are set so high that only few will be able to get them. And the one, which are affordable, are they powerful enough for the situation that might arise.  

Weapons of Protection- Affectability and Affordability

Pepper Spray was the very first weapon that was introduced in the markets for women to protect themselves. Folding Knives, Ninja Spike Keychain and Para cord Monkey Ball have also been made available that can be used by women for their safety. These are few non-lethal weapons that can be easily affordable as their price rate is as low as 50 rupees and maximum to 5oo rupees. While pepper spray, monkey ball, key chain might provide some support in few situations and gain some extra time but they might not be very helpful. Knife on the other hand can be dangerous and be a safer device then the other. In a case reported in 2007 a girl was able to save herself by using pepper spray in the eyes of the boy trying to drag her with him. In another instance a lady was able to protect herself by scaring of the guy by her folding knife, which she wore like a locket. But then there was a case where a girl couldn't help herself out of the situation even with the help of pepper spray because the boys out numbered her. In the other case a girl found herself in a more dangerous situation when she tried to use the knife against the culprit. So while they are helpful they might not always come in handy. Therefore, other powerful weapons were later on introduced.  

Stun Guns and Expandable Baton were later on introduced in the market. Looking like mobile stun guns can give the person the shock of their life with just one press of button. Cold Steel Honeycomb Hairbrush Dagger was later introduced and it played a dual function. Apart from helping in combing ones hair, it also acts like a sheath for the extremely effective dagger that it encloses within. The totally docile looking hairbrush when pulled of reveals 3 1/2" dagger. These instruments are expensive and may not be afforded by everyone. Their starting range is 3000 rupees. They are affective but not affordable by everyone.  

After the brutal gang rape of the medical student in bus on 16 December the Indian government introduced the new weapon in the list of safety weapons for women. They introduced the gun for the women and named it Nirbheek. With .32 calibers and weighing only 500 grams it can easily fit into the handbag of the women. Calling it the ornament for women it is packaged in attractive maroon-colored jewelry case. Guns introduced by government for the safety of women costs around 150000 far beyond the reach of more than half the population. Guns can be said to be the most affective weapon when it comes to the safety of someone. The way the device is designed it will be really a helpful weapon but only if one can buy it along with the calibers.  

Students of SRM University of Chennai also took an initiative and introduced SHE-The anti rape wear. Dubbed Society Harnessing Equipment (SHE) is equipped with a GPS system, pressure sensors, and a little powerhouse device that bears a potential of delivering 3800kV of electric shocks.  

With many available options of the weapons for women it is difficult to decide which one is the safest to carry. To remove this doubt and to give options of many weapons together Dr. Pavan Kohli, introduced a new gadget Samiidha Bhavani. It can serve as baton, a stun gun and a Samurai sword. It also has features like pepper spray, a panic button and a penknife. Claiming to be India's first fully legal and comprehensive self-defense product for women it cost around 1000 rupees.  

Many different mobile apps have also been introduced keeping in mind the safety of women like Safetipin, Raksha, Himmat, Women safety, Smart24X7, Shake2Safety and bSafe. If the girl is an owner of the smartphone then the mobile apps are easily affordable as they are free and somewhat affective. No smartphone means no safety app.

Legal Perspective  

Pepper Spray, Ninja Spike Keychain, Monkey Ball are legal and can be carried around without any worries. Expandable Batons and Stun Guns even though characterized as non-lethal are illegal in Indian market. One cannot carry them or use them in the public place. They can be used by the police officer of higher rank only when granted with the permission.

Hairbrush dragger and folding knifes are legal according to the Indian Arms Act, 1959 if the blade is less then or is 5' inch long and 2' inch wide. Any dragger or folding knife longer then that is called sword and is illegal. Even though the knife or dragger are legal and can be carried around but not every place allow them to be carried. Initially they were not allowed even in the metros but after many complains reported by women they have allowed knife, which have 4' inch long blade in the metro. 

According to the Indian Law carrying a gun around in the public places is illegal and punishable. Despite that the weapon introduced for the safety by the government is gun. One can say that they have called it right as the ornament for women as it will only stay in the lockers like all the other jewelry. To own a gun it is necessary to have a license. Having a license does not give right to carry the gun around. If found carrying a gun in the public place one can be fined and if used one can be jailed.  

As Dr. Kohli claim that when his device will be introduced it will be fully legal but the problem that arises is that most of the weapons combined by him are illegal in India. And even though it introduced in market just like the gun it has not been able to attain the certificate of fully legal weapon.    

Conclusion  

Even with the number of weapons introduced for the safety of women not all the weapons are made easily affordable or legal to be carried by everyone and there lays the eternal question: is it worthy to carry a knife and gun, and get in serious trouble with the local law if searched or opt for a weapon not as lethal and risk serious harm by not packing enough power.  

Reference:

1) Ghosh Palash. (2014,January 01). Indian government introduces handguns designed for women: self defense policy or exploitation? International Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/indian-government-introduces-handguns-designed-women-self-defense-policy-or-exploitation-1544793 on 13 February 2018.

2) Gupta Heena. (2016, March 07). 7 best women safety apps. Gadgets Now. Retrieved from https://www.gadgetsnow.com/slideshows/7-best-women-safety-apps/Safetipin/photolist/51285631.cms on 13 February 2018.

3) Crime capital: Delhi reports 40pc of rape cases in 19 cities. (2017, November 30). The Economic Times. Retrieved from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/crime-capital-delhi-reports-40-pc-of-rape-cases-in-19-cities/articleshow/61867820.cms on 13 February 2018.

4) Crime in India. National Crime Records Bureau.

5) Indian Arms Act, 1959.

6)  Perappadan Bindu Shajan. (2016, April 07). Nirbhaya's parents unveil women's safety device. The Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nirbhayas-parents-unveil-womens-safety-device/article6972821.ece on 13 February 2018.