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Pepper spray: Emergency Self Defense for Women

If you Google 'must haves for women' they will tell you that a little black dress (LBD) or a red lipstick ought to do the trick. What they forget to tell you is that today's savvy woman must invest in her safety with equal fervor. With 39 crimes against women per hour* and newspaper headlines screaming hoarse of assaults, it is time that we women take pro-active steps for our protection. A pepper spray, by no means, solves the larger law & order issue but may offer the bare minimum self defense. Here's what every woman ought to know about using a pepper spray.

(*Source: NCRB data)

Why Keep Pepper Spray

The incidences of gang rapes have been on a rise. Pitted against multiple attackers, even a trained martial art expert stands little chance. For an untrained woman, the question of getting into a fight doesn't arise. Her best bet for self-protection is to find an escape.

“ Incidents of kidnapping & sexual assaults on girls and women point to an 'appalling level' of crime in India, reports Economic Survey of India.

Keeping yourself armed with a pepper spray might considerably enhance the chances of survival or escape. 

Buying a Pepper Spray

1. Choose the right size: Pepper sprays come in various sizes. Don't get carried away with beautiful packaging. Before buying, ask yourself will this quantity suffice during a real life threat? If the answer is no, please don't waste your money. Investing in a 55ml/ 35 gm defense spray is a good idea.

2. Look for the range on the label: Biggest fear women have about using pepper spray, is, what if the attacker snatches it and uses on them instead. Defense sprays have a range of 7-10 feet. When you sense danger, first step out of an attacker's reach and then fog him. For this buy a pepper spray with 7-10 feet range.

3. How does Pepper Spray work: A pepper spray is nothing but the bottled concentrate of chili peppers (very much like "mirchi powder". When aimed correctly, it stuns an attacker temporarily thus giving you time to escape.

4. When to carry pepper spray: Carry it in your purse & keep one in your home/car in general but when walking alone late in the night, in deserted streets/park or traveling alone in a cab keep it in your hand so if need arises you won't be wasting precious time looking for it.

5. Practice: Find an open space like a terrace or a park & practice after reading instructions carefully. Ensure that there are no kids or elderly people around and the wind is not blowing towards you. Even a little spray will cause sneezing, coughing etc in which case it should be immediately washed off with lots of water.

6. Aim for soft spots: When faced with a threat, direct the pepper spray into the eyes of your attacker. If he shields his eyes aim for face, nose or ears. The impact of a good pepper spray lasts for up to 40 minutes, giving you enough time to escape.

(Pepper spray for self-defense is legal in India but misuse for any other purpose is a criminal offence).

(Mriganka Dadwal is a former-Journalist, Activist & Founder of SLAP. She and her team has helped train more than 8000 women on personal safety & self-defense under real-life threats)

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