Number of women techies buying pepper sprays on a rise

Thiruvananthapuram: The number of employees buying and keeping pepper sprays in Kerala to protect themselves from any attack by anti-socials during late office hours, is on a rise in the state.

A campaign to promote the use of pepper spray has been launched in Kerala`s IT-hub Technopark here in the wake of widespread concern caused by the rape and death of a 23-year-old working woman on a train near Shornur earlier this month.

The spray, which comes in aerosol container, can spew out chilly liquid to a distance of five to seven feet, technopark employees said.

The pepper spray is being distributed in the IT campus as part of an awareness campaign initiated by Technopark employees`s community website, `Technopark Today`, jointly with security firm Rampart.

S Suryajith, a Technopark employee and a prime-mover of the campaign, said recent attack and death of the woman passenger in train had prompted them to think about this self-defence mechanism.

"We have already got around 150 orders on the first day itself. We make door-to-door delivery within the technopark campus and distribute the spray via online trading for outsiders," Suryajith said.

"If that victim had a self-defence tool like pepper spray with her, she could have thwarted the attack by the man. Such shocking situation may happen to any girl anywhere these days," Suryajith told PTI.

Many employees in Technopark have to travel even during night and wee hours to meet their duty schedules. As the campus is located 10 kms from the city, they have to often commute by taxis or autorickswas to reach home. But, many feel the night travel is not always safe, especially for women.

"In such situations, an easy-to-handle self-defence device like pepper spray will give them courage to travel alone and to attend the work. Though we have begun the campaign solely for technopark employees, we are now getting calls even from outside Kerala requesting pepper spray," he said.

Oleoresin Capsaicin is the main ingredient in pepper sprays. The liquid is 20 times stronger than the normal chilly powder.

"As the spray container is smaller than the normal perfume bottle, it is easy to carry and keep in pockets, belt pouches or hand bags," said software professional Susmitha.

As part of the campaign, the website is running security awareness classes also for techies on how to handle the spray container if a situation called for using it.