Indian women were given knives by the country’s radical Hindu nationalist party so they can fend off rapists. The women were also given chili powder.
The move by the Shiv Sena party, which governs Mumbai, comes after a gang rape in New Delhi ignited a national debate on how best to tackle sex crimes.
The party, an ally of the main opposition BJP, announced that it handed out 21,000 kitchen knives that feature three-inch blades to women in Mumbai and in surrounding areas. Yahoo! News reports that the party plans to distribute 100,000 of them.
Shiv Sena spokesman Rahul Narvekar stated, “This is a symbolic gesture.” He added that knives with a blade less than six inches aren’t a weapon. Despite this, Mumbai police assured that they are examining the knives. They are also considering legal action.
Reuters adds that Narvekar also stated:
“It’s only to pass a signal to eve-teasers, anti-social elements and perpetrators of crime against women that women are empowered and they can take care of themselves.”
When they handed out the knives and chili powder to women, Ajay Chaudhari, who runs the knife campaign, encouraged the women. Chaudhari stated, “Don’t be afraid of using this knife if someone attacks you.” The party has also set up a team of advocates to protect the women from “any potential court cases that may arise.”
In response to the rape and death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student last month, many women in India have taken up self defense classes. They have also started carrying pepper spray more.
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