DhakaTribune
Tuesday April 24, 2018 10:04 AM

Street smarts

Street smarts

Safe practices in everyday life

In October, 2015, news broke of a gang of bikers in Motijheel, terrorising women in the AGB colony. During one of these incidents, Public Works Department (PWD) Accounts Assistant, Runa Akter was harassed and run over by one of these bikers. She died of her injuries at Dhaka Medical College – she was only 26 years old and left behind a loving family, including a two year old daughter.

The man who ran her over, Sohan Shahriar, was captured by locals immediately after the incident and handed over to the police, but Runa’s father accused the police of failing to arrest his accomplices due to their ties with local political leaders. He also alleged that he had received threatening calls asking him to withdraw the case over her death.

Sadly, stories like this are far from rare in our country. The story of Runa Akter is the story of hundreds of women who live in the city and face harassment during the course of their daily lives, sometimes to a fatal end. Court conditions for such crimes are far few and far between, and police cooperation is even more unlikely. At times like these, you just have to rely on resources immediately available to you, and the support of concerned locals. So what can women do to be safer in situations like these?

Safety in the digital age

Women being harassed on the streets while going about their daily chores, is such a common phenomenon that we now have a personal safety mobile app for it. Daak is an app that can be used both online and offline, and gives real-time updates of the whereabouts of your closed ones using GoogleMaps or through an SMS tracking feature. Daak is an API based application, where the data can be used to track down the location of the person who uses it and forwards it to everyone within a 1km radius, along with their location so that assistance can be given immediately. In this way, it allows you to engage people near you and communicate, and can be used for emergency situations as well, since it also lists all local administrations’ and law enforcers’ communication numbers.

Similarly, Khoj is an app that can be used in the case of an emergency situation. It was created as a mobile platform that can be used to track, report, and find missing children by integrating social media, real time tracking, and mainstream media.

However, it can be used in the case of missing adults as well, and works with radio partners and social media, to ensure that the information of the missing person reaches as many people as possible. In this way, as people report more of the missing people, law enforcers can then use the date and create a more accurate perimeter of where the missing person might be.

Learning self-defense techniques does not only allow you to defend yourself, but gives you a level of confidence regarding your capabilities in handling yourself in a tough situation, which can often make all the difference

Taking safety into your own hands

One of the most irritating safety tip we tend to hear fixates on women’s clothing, and asks them to dress sensibly in a way not to attract attention. The numerous incidents of assault on the streets show that it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a hijab or tight jeans. On the other hand, it does make sense to wear sensible shoes that you can run away if needed, and to go without articles of clothing that are easy to pull on, such as scarves around your neck. Staring at your mobile phone while walking or wearing headphones can also make you an easy target, and the only reason you should be using your phone is to connect to a personal safety app or notify a friend of your whereabouts. Even then, you should be aware of your surroundings instead of gadding away on the phone. Similarly, you should avoid carrying shoulder strap bags too often – a backpack will ensure your hands are free to defend yourself when needed.

If you want to take your personal safety one step further, you can always sign up for self-defence classes. According to Sensei Kazy Shahed of Black Belt Academy, learning self-defense techniques does not only allow you to defend yourself, but gives you a level of confidence regarding your capabilities in handling yourself in a tough situation, which can often make all the difference. Black Belt Academy now does classes that aren’t just tailored to making you a martial arts master – you can do classes for around six months to a year, for the sake of fitness and self-defence. This doesn’t only involve wado karate but aikido, jujitsu, and mai-tai techniques.

Basic jujitsu focuses on one-to-one fights, whereas other martial arts are one-to-many and also teaches grappling techniques. These different techniques are appropriate for different contexts, and can allow you to have as all-rounded understanding of self-defence. However, it is always important to remember there is a fine line between bravery and recklessness, and these techniques should only be used in the most extreme situations – in most cases, it is best to head for safety and ask for help.

Black Belt Academy is now offering three free taster sessions for people interested in learning self defence techniques. To take advantage of this offer, call 01817519762.
Address: House 6 (1st floor), Road 113/A, Gulshan 2

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