In case of emergencies, women could use pepper spray for self-defence and protect themselves from anti-social elements, said Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan.

During an interaction with college students and working women on the occasion of International Women’s Day here on Friday, he said that there were complaints from women that chain-snatchers brandished knives and forced them to give away the jewels worn by them. On such occasions, the pepper spray would not only save their jewels, but also act as a deterrent to anti-social elements.

With the city expanding rapidly and new residential colonies coming up, the police are finding it difficult to monitor the area with limited manpower.

A senior official, who offered counselling to women, explained that the spray apparatus contained pepper, extracts of chilly seeds and tear gas. It could spray up to a distance of 12 feet. There is no risk of inflicting permanent damage to the eyes. The eyes become dysfunctional for about 45 minutes. “There may be temporary disablement and ophthalmologists vouched for the safety of the spray,” he claimed. A working woman, who had moved from Bangalore to Madurai six months ago, said that after the New Delhi gang rape incident, many women in the metros were armed with pepper spray cans.

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