|The 'Nirbheek' revolver
Earlier this week, a news headline really grabbed my attention. The announcement of ‘Nirbheek’- India’s first gun designed especially for women, was met with a lot appreciation all over. The .32 bore light weight revolver would help women protect themselves from an unexpected assault. After reading the news my first reaction was of appreciation. I was happy that finally something can be provided to women which will help them feel safe and can help them counter any untoward incident.
However, when I scrolled down the page of the article, my eyes fell on the price of the gun. Priced at Rs 1, 22,360, ‘Nirbheek’ might have noble intentions but I doubt it would essentially serve the purpose it has been invented for. The price is way too much for any middle-class Indian woman to be able to afford it. The ones who would be able to do so would I think constitute barely 5% of India’s total female population. Hence, in my view, Nirbheek would not exactly make any significant difference in women being able to protect themselves.
So what is the solution then? The reason for this post comes from the fact that after the Delhi gang-rape incident I had been trying to find out some ‘weapon’ or similar alternatives that can protect women from being brutalized. I tried to do this out of genuine fear of my loved ones.
In the aftermath of the Delhi incident, the newspapers and online media were brimming with possible measures that women can take to protect themselves. From joining self-defense classes, to buying stun guns, they had it all. Among these however, I found the picture of a little can the most interesting. The Pepper Spray also known as OC spray is a potent weapon if used effectively and can cause severe damage, albeit momentarily, to the eyes of the person it is sprayed on. Easy to carry and simple to use, the pepper spray is quite commonly used by women traveling alone in the West. Its use in this part of the world though, is quite limited. The reasons? Lack of proper information and availability.
It took me quite some time to track down the place from where I could buy it in my city. However, I took the effort and purchased it a few months back to gift it to a female friend of mine. In my view, it is perhaps the most important gift I have given anyone, although I seriously pray that my friend never comes into the situation where she has to ever use it. Nevertheless, when I did my research on the authenticity and benefits of a pepper spray can, I found it to be much more useful than going for some of the other options for the self-protection of women, which is unlikely to find many takers in the long-run.
After giving that pepper spray can to my friend, the next question in my mind was that how many other women know about this thing? Over the last few months, I have spoken to many women I know regarding this little can; from female colleagues, to friends to acquaintances. Many of them knew about it, especially after the Delhi rape incident, but none knew about its effectiveness in details or its availability. And that I feel is the case with innumerable other women in the country as well. Thus, I felt it was my responsibility as a concerned citizen to let as many women know about the pepper spray can as possible.
Let me discuss about this little canister in brief here.
Usage: This small can of about 60 ml has immense strength and can take down any assailant(s) for more than an hour. The person on whom it is sprayed will be partially blind and his eyes are sure to ‘burn like hell’. It can spray up to a range of 8-10 feet and can take out close to half a dozen people if sprayed properly. Although it won’t cause any permanent damage to the eyes, I assure you, the person or persons, who feel the spray’s effects once, will regret their action and will surely think twice before even attempting to attack any woman in the future.
More importantly, you do not need any license to carry these cans. Under the Arms Act in India, a license is only required for firearms and hence you can easily carry these little things in your bags without any fear.
(The contents of these cans usually stay effective for three years; if it lasts for that long. After which you can either refill them or buy a new one.)
Availability: The most pertinent question that remains is where to get these pepper spray bottles. In the West these are easily available over the chemist shops, drug stores and even supermarkets. Sadly, that is not the case in our country. In my lookout for this spray, I asked for it in drugstores and even supermarkets. Leave alone keeping it, they hadn’t even heard of such a thing. Luckily though, my intense search brought me to a person from whom I eventually purchased the can. Avijit Sengupta (Ph: 09432103005, 0728454074), supplies pepper spray cans to anyone who might need it in West Bengal. You can either visit his office in Lake Town, or he would ensure that you get your product by delivering it to you personally (for a little extra cost).
Alternatively, Kolkatans can also find it in a few shops in New Market (the old one). Just ask around for a pepper spray when you enter the market, and you will be directed to the shops offering it. There might be other shops as well who keep these sprays, but for now these are the only options I can present to you. For non-Kolkatans, I would suggest that you make an effort to search around in your respective cities to find out where you can get them. If I can find it, surely you can as well. You can also contact Mr. Avijit and he would, I am sure, guide you on where you can get it in your city.
Other than this, you can always buy it online. A simple Google search would do the job for you. If even still you need some assistance, you can browse through these two websites: http://bit.ly/1kJQUnY and http://bit.ly/1b9VfXH. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of these websites, but there are several more similar ones like these out there. Try them out.
Price: These pepper spray cans usually cost around Rs. 500-600 per bottle. Yes, it’s true that many women from the villages and the suburbs will not be able to afford buying these and I sincerely hope that the makers of these products consider bringing down the price further so as to make it easily affordable for every woman. But even so, a majority of the females surely can invest in these cans if they want to. And I genuinely hope that they do.
Ideally, it should be the job of the government to make as many of these products available freely across the country as possible. Nevertheless, the reason I am pressing so much for these pepper spray cans is because of the reality of the times we live in. The fact that women today are unsafe in the country is an understatement. I do not wish to analyze the situation further. The need of the hour today for you is to be alert and prepared. With ‘you’ I of course mean women. I want women in my country to be safe and having a pepper spray can along with you when you venture out from home, might just make the difference. True, there might be several other ways for women to defend themselves with. But I am clamoring for what I find the most effective one out there today.
I do not want you to ‘like’ this post and praise me for my ‘nobility’. I want you to make an effort and buy one pepper spray can right away. Whenever a major rape case is highlighted in the media, we begin shouting for actions and measures. The first measure, I say, is to be prepared for self-defense. Thus, go out, and buy this thing. And don’t just buy it; make sure that you carry it every single day in your bag or in your pockets. Keep it in such a place where it can be easily accessed in times of an emergency. Do it. I implore you.
The pepper spray might not stop rapes or molestation of women, but it might save them; as it already has done for several of them. I believe if used effectively and continuously by women, it can make a huge difference eventually.
I hope and pray that you take my words seriously and buy this can. I also hope and pray that you never ever have to use it.