A recent UN Women survey shows that 97% of women aged 18 to 24 in the UK have been sexually harassed in public spaces.
16 Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know
“In the dark, when a shadow lurks, men fear it’s a ghost but women fear it’s a man.”
Stalking, harassment, and other forms of sexual violence in public places are a daily reality for women in nearly every part of the globe.
Most women experience unwanted attention at some point in their lives – from lewd remarks and gestures to sexual harassment and much worse. This happens in streets, subways, public transport, schools, workplaces, public restrooms, and parks, etc.
A recent UN Women survey shows that 97% of women aged 18 to 24 in the UK have been sexually harassed in public spaces. As many as 80% of women of all ages reported being sexually harassed in public spaces. The situation is no different in other countries either.
Being stalked or harassed can be daunting for women but the sad reality is that crimes against women are unlikely to stop. As a result, they need to be aware of how to protect themselves from their predator and make sure that they do everything in their power to keep themselves safe.
The following is a list of safety tips that every woman should know:
1. Always make sure that you have enough battery and balance in your phone.
Keep your phone handy while you’re on the road or travelling, but try not to use it since being on the phone reduces your alertness. You always have to be aware of what is happening around you to be able to sense the danger.
2. Download effective women’s safety apps on your phone.
Make sure they’re actually good by checking their ratings and comments on the App Store/Google Playstore. These apps, with the press of a button, send your current location with an emergency message to your contacts.
3. Always walk confidently, even if you’re scared.
Don’t look like a victim! Stand tall and keep up your posture in a way that represents authority. The less you resemble a victim, the less likely it is that someone will target you as such. And if you suspect that a person is following you, immediately cross the street or enter a store and seek help.
4. If your attacker harasses you, know that you have the right to defend yourself physically.
Strike the most sensitive parts of the body of your attacker. These are vulnerable zones such as the eyes, nose, throat, groin, and below the neck. And if you are being chased, scream for help as loudly as you can and run in a zigzag pattern since that will confuse and wear your attacker down.
5. Always remain aware of your surroundings.
Attackers strike at vulnerable and unsuspecting targets. A distracted woman is an easy target. The worst thing you can do is to have no idea what is happening around you. Be alert! Your focus shouldn’t solely be on your phone or anything else. Also, never plug-in the earphones while travelling or walking down the street alone.
6. Trust your gut instinct.
At times, your ‘sixth sense’ or ‘gut instinct’ can save your life. Learn to trust this power and make the most of it. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you feel that the place or person you are interacting with is not safe for you, trust this intuition and avoid these places and people right away.
7. When you are on a bus/cab/auto/taxi ride, pretend a fake call.
Pretend to fake-call any of your family members/friends in the following way: ‘I’m at so-and-so place and will reach soon.’ This will alert the driver that people are waiting for you and aware of your whereabouts. (I always do this and trust me it works!) Also, text and tell your family members about the cab number so that they could reach out to you during emergency situations.
8. When you ask for directions and someone offers to lead you along the way, do not go.
Oftentimes, predators just want to lure you to a less crowded place where your shouts can’t be heard. Make sure you do not fall for this trap.
9. Change your routes often so that you can avoid potential attacks or harassment from those familiar with your travel schedule.
It’s likely that predators notice where you are and you don’t even know about it. Avoid shortcuts to new or unsafe areas and try not to go out alone at night, especially if you have to walk into an isolated area or a parking lot.
10. Never mention your contact number or address loudly in public places.
Be careful about sharing your personal information – especially when ordering food at food courts and restaurants or when purchasing groceries and medicines. Instead, you could simply write it down and give it to the cashier/shopkeeper instead.
11. Don’t forget to cover your school/college/work ID in public places, especially on public transport.
Don’t allow your predators to note down your contact details and address by openly displaying your identity – make sure you remember to cover up personal information that may be on display.
12. Pepper spray to the rescue!
Always carry it along with you since it could be a useful tool to get the predator to step back while you can escape. Make sure to keep it handy and not tucked away in your purse so that you don’t have to fumble for it during emergency situations. Remember, when it comes to your safety, every second is critical.
13. Never share your comings and goings on social media.
By doing this, you compromise your safety as it enables stalkers to gain easy access to you. Unfortunately, it has become a trend to post about whereabouts on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platform these days.
14. If driving alone, always keep your doors locked.
Look inside the car, at the front and at the back before taking your seat, especially at night or at a less-crowded area. If you notice that someone is following you, then drive to the police station or a public area.
15. Always try to park your car in a well-lit area.
When walking to and from your parked car, be alert and conscious and watch for anything suspicious. Keep your car keys in your hand to avoid having to search for them.
16. When in a parking garage, always scan the area around your car, be alert and aware of your surrounding.
If you notice that your car has a flat tire, immediately return back from where you came from (restaurant, store, mall, etc) and seek help. Once assistance arrives, then only approach your car.
Aside from these safety tips, you also need to know how to tackle a stranger that is trying to become too friendly with. you. Not everyone has bad intentions but you never know. Better be safe than sorry!
Here are some tips on how to handle strangers who are too interested or friendly:
- If they ask you “don’t you get bored travelling alone”, especially when you’re in an airplane or a train, tell them that your family members/friends are sitting in the back row/other compartment.
- If a delivery guy/plumber/electrician/repairman etc asks you too many questions, pretend that you don’t live alone and are expecting people soon so that they don’t think of coming again later.
- If you find that someone knows too much about your movements or schedule, then pretend as if you don’t have a fixed route or schedule so that they don’t know when to and where to find you again.
So women, your safety is your responsibility! Stay alert, stay safe, and empower women around you.