Girls are raped not always by strangers, but also by persons they know, who may be friends or boyfriends. Here's what your daughters need to know.
Most parents teach their daughters to beware of strangers, never to accept drinks or a lift from unknown people and in general to be cautious when dealing with the unfamiliar. However, cases of date rape are becoming more and more common in urban India, especially amongst the middle classes and more affluent sections of society. Girls are raped not by strangers, but by persons they know, who may be friends or boyfriends.
Although as a parent you may want to throw a protective shell around your child by preventing her from indulging in many social activities, this is not always advisable, since she will not be with you forever and needs to learn how to cope by herself.
Often parents go to the extent of preventing their daughter from having male friends. This can be counter-productive. If your daughter has friends that are boys, it will be easier for her to figure out another man's nature and intentions. So, encourage healthy friendship with the opposite sex, and do your bit by getting to know her friends. Call them over to your place, spend a little time with them whenever they come over, and for younger children, get to know the parents of your child's friends.
Teach your daughter to use her judgment and trust her instinct. Do this by trusting her judgments yourself, so she learns to have faith in herself. Very often she may come across people that make her uncomfortable, but because she feels she should give them the benefit of doubt she may take a step that lands her in trouble. If someone makes her uncomfortable, tell her to have no qualms about refusing to meet with such a person - and she should never feel guilty for turning down a date, or for example a well disguised ploy for meeting alone such as a request for help with studies.
A number of date rapes take place on the way back, after a party or night out, when the boy or a group of boys drop the girl back home. Generally when traveling home at night it is safer if a girl is accompanied by a trustworthy male, but the problem arises if the boy or boys are immoral. Often, this is a matter of judgment, and if your daughter at any stage feels unsure about whether she is safe with someone, once again, tell her to trust her instincts and to back off.
Teach your daughter the importance of having her own transportation, and once she gets a job, instead of spending all her money on clothes and shoes, encourage her to make her first investment in a car. Once your daughter has her own transportation, she reaches a higher 'safety level.' When she arranges to meet with someone she doesn't know well, instead of asking him to pick her up or drop her off, she can meet them directly at a public place such as a restaurant, and can leave on her own. She can also leave a party early if she wants to, without having to depend someone to drop her back. However, she does need to be responsible, make sure there always is enough petrol, get her car serviced regularly, and carry a cell phone.
A rule of thumb for travel at night: As far as possible, opt for a venue close to your home.
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