Who tells me this? Anu.
Anu runs a cafe in Gokulam, Mysore, only a few blocks from the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute to which hundreds of students pour in during the months in which Sharath and Saraswati Jois (grandson and daughter of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois) open the doors to teach.
Anu is very protective of the area and loves it deeply, hence of course, wants to keep it safe. Not long ago she was running a petition to the government so that fruits would not be spread with pesticides, but these days she is onto a petition that affects visiting students much more than just chemicals.
I was the victim of one such attack in 2012, when a man on the back of a motorcycle slapped me as I was walking back from the Green Hotel with 4 friends at around 2:00 PM on a Sunday.
|A street in Gokulam|
It is with great sadness that I learn this is intensifying, especially in light of the recent tragedies that are happening all over India involving rape and murder of women.
This is what the petition, which Anu intends to send to the police commissioner, says:
- Sign the petition: Here is the link (I signed already) – They need 5000 and only have 20!
- Pass the info around to all your friends!
- When visiting Mysore, keep safe, (i.e.: if you are a woman cover your shoulders), and report anything out of sorts to the police (dial 100 from an Indian phone)
UPDATE#1: When this post was published they had 19 signatures, now 30 mins later they have 66, thank you! They also now have a Facebook Page
UPDATE #2: 139 sings as of noon. We are doing it! Let’s keep Gokulam safe!
UPDATE #3: Reading the “reasons why” people are signing up is a huge eye opener. I just went through the list and it gave me chills.
Clearly this is not just me, thank you to everyone that is sharing through the social networks!
UPDATE #3.5: Suggestions on how to protect yourself from the Facebook page:
- Look clearly and with awareness at your surroundings. Do not daydream along the road. Do not be distracted by your iPhone or iPod.
- Carry a whistle and/or be prepared to scream and shout for help.
- Create meeting places to walk in groups to class together.
- Have a male friend pick you up and walk together.
- “A few days ago (March 2013), as a friend and I walked up water tower road, a man in a scooter passed by us 2 times, each time saying ‘Hi’ in a harassing way. The third time, as he approached and I read his intentions, I screamed at him, saying: ‘No, go away’ and a little curse word also came out. It worked because he didn’t pass by us again! My suggestion, as I was told by someone else, if ever in this type of situation is to scream as letting the people around know that something is wrong. Also, some of these men think we are defenseless and screaming or showing some type of confidence makes them think of it twice!”
- Carry a stick or pepper spray/mace, which is available in India: http://cobraspray.com/p3.htm
- “If you do go to the police and report these incidents, I suggest you go with a friend, just for moral support. The police may be symphatetic, or they may not – whichever way it goes, it is easier to be at the police station if you are not a lone woman, and if you go with someone you trust.”
- Think about your hairstyle; ponytails and long hair are easy to grab.
- Walk confidently.
- SING: Solar plexus-Instep-Nose-Groin, the four attack points to focus on if grabbed from behind. Elbow them in the solar plexus, stomp on the foot (instep) as hard as you can, and when they let go, turn around and jam the palm of your hand into their nose in an upward motion, then finish with a knee to the groin.
UPDATE #4: Some Stories from the Facebook Page, for more see here:
N recounted her experience “I was pinched and groped right across the street from the shala last year at 5am. I was not wearing anything revealing or showing too much skin. I was completely covered and thought, ‘what have I done wrong, how did I manage to attract this kind of attention?’ I was so grossed out and filled with rage that this man / young boy felt it was ok to touch me like that. The unfortunate thing is we can be more careful and take necessary precautions but this is a deep rooted issue that only to begins to change through awareness and people like you.”
MG, a local resident, said “It is happening to the local Indian women living in Gokulam also. I have been eve teased so many times while walking the streets of Gokulam in late evening. Can we please begin with working street lights. I think well-lit roads will go a long way in making Gokulam a safe place.” (countless dates)