Shiv Sena gives women kitchen knives, chilli to fend off rapists

Published: January 25, 2013
Indian women hold knives as they pose for a photo during a function in Mumbai. PHOTO: AFP

Indian women hold knives as they pose for a photo during a function in Mumbai. PHOTO: AFP

MUMBAI: India’s radical Hindu nationalist party governing Mumbai has handed out kitchen knives and chilli powder to women following a gang rape in the capital New Delhi that ignited a national debate on the best way to tackle sex crimes.

The Shiv Sena party, an ally of the main opposition BJP, said it had handed out 21,000 knives with three-inch (7 cm) blades to women in the city and surrounding areas and plans to distribute 100,000.

Mumbai police said they were examining the knives and considering legal action.

“This is a symbolic gesture,” said Shiv Sena spokesman Rahul Narvekar, adding that a knife shorter than six inches in length does not fit the definition of a weapon. The party also handed out small bags of chilli powder – apparently to throw into an attacker’s eyes.

“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,” Narvekar said.

Eve-teasing is a euphemism for molesting women.

“Don’t be afraid of using this knife if someone attacks you,” Ajay Chaudhari, running the knife campaign, was quoted by the party newspaper, Saamana, as saying.

“We have set up a team of nine advocates to protect you from any potential court cases that may arise.”

A 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped and beaten on a moving bus in on Dec. 16 before being thrown bleeding on a expressway in New Delhi, dubbed India’s “rape capital”. Mumbai is generally considered a safer city for women.

The attack and the student’s death two weeks later caused public outrage at the failure of the government and police to protect women from rising sexual offences in a country where one rape is reported on average every 20 minutes.

In response, more women are taking up self-defence classes and carrying pepper spray. A government commission set up to recommend revisions to India’s sex crime laws this week said women who kill an attacker during a attempted rape should be able to plead self-defence.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Born Political
    Jan 25, 2013 - 2:08PM

    This clearly shows how effective good governance is being carried out in worlds so called biggest democracy. Women can illegally use this weapon too, no? Our great rehman malik once said, 70% of target killings in karachi are being carried by girlfriends and wives ;)


  • Adnan
    Jan 25, 2013 - 2:58PM

    Why do they need to distribute that, all the women have red chilli powder and plenty of knives in their kitchen. Use our Rehman Baba’s tricks ‘Ban Mobile’, he say that mobile is behind every crime.


  • nadia28
    Jan 25, 2013 - 3:06PM

    Use knives to chop it off, then pour 2 tablespoons of red chilli powder after. Ouch!


  • DevilHunterX
    Jan 25, 2013 - 3:31PM

    Pakistanis should start carrying pepper sprays and taser guns.


  • Bond
    Jan 25, 2013 - 3:44PM

    Well Shev Sena is a terrorist hindu organization never wastes any event to instigate the peace loving people to fight causing disruption actually the Indian society has morally been degraded to such a level that the govt is unable to protect their civilians in public transport and these fanatic are taking undue advantage to further their evil designs heading toward anarchy and civil disobedience which will be a breading ground for the fulfillment of their evil designs and thirst for human blood.


  • Ss
    Jan 25, 2013 - 5:03PM

    Atlast Great work shivsena.


  • doom
    Jan 25, 2013 - 5:19PM

    @Born Political: But all women have had kitchen knives all along if they wanted to use them illegally…and pepper spray, stun-guns and self-defense training could in theory all be used illegally. Like they say, it was meant to be symbolic. For a change SS doesn’t seem utterly insane.

    Let us all just give thanks they are talking about strengthening women and simply haven’t blamed women for getting themselves raped by following “western culture” or such some such nonsense, as others have been doing.


  • Mika
    Jan 25, 2013 - 5:29PM

    I say knife size is too small.


  • Rashid
    Jan 25, 2013 - 5:58PM


    chop what?
    it would be better to kill him.. If I got you correctly..


  • Imtiaz
    Jan 25, 2013 - 6:11PM

    Better give knives to young girls not these aunties… ;p


  • Astraldust
    Jan 25, 2013 - 6:41PM

    @ Born Political
    I can imagine the burn Pakistanis feel when India is said to be the “biggest democracy”. And it burns so bad because India actually IS the biggest democracy. Like every democracy we have our problems too but at least we are moving forward.
    Do yourself a favor and stop this “biggest democracy” swipe. Sarcasm is for winners.


  • iwonder
    Jan 25, 2013 - 7:04PM

    cut what?


  • Gratgy
    Jan 25, 2013 - 7:35PM

    @Born Political
    This clearly shows how effective good governance is being carried out in worlds so called biggest democracy. Women can illegally use this weapon too

    Lol! If a woman wanted to kill you she would be armed with much more than a three inch blade and chilly powder. Your logic really makes no sense but just reflects the negativity and spite that you carry.

    I think this is a far more progressive step than asking women to stay at home in order to avoid rape. It also gives the message that women have support in the society.

    In fact in my company we have distributed pepper sprays to all the ladies even though a majority of them drive their own vehicles and do not use public transport. Hopefully none of them would ever need to use the pepper sprays.


  • John B
    Jan 25, 2013 - 9:29PM

    Well, Indian version of pepper spray and weapon. Whether it works or not, the publicity around this creates awareness and that is good.

    Crime is stopped by law enforcement and swift trail. Even in the US, it takes about 2 years for a case to go to trial and in populous nations overloaded with cases the system gets clogged up. Fast trial court is not a good idea because it denies due process of those who are already waiting to be heard.


  • Sidrah
    Jan 26, 2013 - 2:12AM

    I do not like SS and they re a fundamentalist hindu group but I wish that some group in Pakistan also starts a similar initiative. Actually I know some women use compasses with which you draw circles to stab men’s hands when using public transport in Pakistan.


  • A W
    Jan 26, 2013 - 8:40PM

    I can’t get over the size of the life! Lol! How can such a tiny knife help one female in fending of 3 or 4 males all at once, without training, and then if they have pistols then I don’t think there is any hope for that female at all. They should train females in self defense first before arming them.


  • Parvez
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:53AM

    @nadia28:……… your thinking, bravo.


  • gp65
    Jan 27, 2013 - 7:02AM

    @A W: Frankly, this action is symbolic more than anything else. Women already HAVE kitchen knives in their kitchen. They also have chilli powder in their kitchen. The intention here is to tell women that you need not be on the defensive or feel ashamed when you are harassed. IT is the other person who is wrong to harass you.

    Such messages are necessary for mindset change.


  • bal pagal thackrey
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:41AM

    My India =D


  • ravi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:08PM

    I live in maharastra where only shiv sena has their presence.i came to know this news only in expr.tribune,read exp.trbne regularly.many times I feel all the shivsena related news points in wronge direction.


  • abhi
    Jan 28, 2013 - 11:36AM

    I can see some people got clearly offended here.


  • Leila Rage
    Jan 28, 2013 - 9:24PM

    Prevention is better than cure: raise men to respect women and treat them with kindness and compassion. That is better than arming women. Arming women is only a temporary measure; reforming men is more permanent.


  • Irfan haqparast wazir
    Jan 29, 2013 - 1:29AM

    i think its not the good way to solve this problem. Knives couldnt save them from the inhumane citizens. Give them the power of equality, so that they defeat


  • Someone
    Jan 29, 2013 - 5:50PM

    Let’s not confuse largest democracy by virtue of over population with moderate to well-functioning democracy. And I find the arrogance a bit misplaced coming from a country plagued with as many issues as India has.And no, I’m not Pakistani.


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