The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) has decided to allow women to carry pepper spray as a means of self-defense. This after stiff opposition both online and offline over the unofficial ban on women being allowed to carry pepper spray on the metro.
BL Yeshwanth Chavan, Chief Public Relations Officer, BMRCL, said that the corporation’s security department has gone over the issue and has decided to okay it. He also said that all security staff at the station have been now directed to allow women to carry pepper sprays.
Earlier there have been instances of pepper sprays being confiscated by security staff at some stations as they were considered to be inflammable.
The issue has come up after incidents of violence and sexual assault against women in the country including the recent rape and murder of a Hyderabadi veterinarian. Following the gruesome crime, there have been many who have questioned the stand by some security staff in the Bengaluru metro.
Anusha, a regular metro user said, “I was stopped once in May by security staff at Rajajinagar for carrying it. At that time, they had confiscated it. Since then I did not buy another one. But after the Hyderabad incident, I decided I should carry one for my own protection. But again both me and my friend were stopped during the security check.”
She added, “At a time when we are unsafe in the streets and there is no increased vigilance by police to protect women, how can authorities stop us from carrying something which is important for our self defence?”
Rakshit S Ponnathpur, a public policy researcher at NLSUI, Bengaluru also tweeted, “Dear @cpronammametro, why is your security staff confiscating pepper sprays from women in a few stations? You can’t arbitrarily deny women access to a handy self-defense mechanism, when they have to resort to alternate modes of transport as well, to reach their destinations!”
He asked, “Are these arbitrary decisions taken by security staff or is it a BMRCL rule? Will your staff take responsibility for the safety of women commuters when they make them exit the stations after disarming them with the one self-defense option they had at their disposal?”