'Never trust a cab or auto driver.'
'Never share personal information.'
'Never hide your whereabouts from your family.'
'Don't party late with strangers or 'just met' friends.'
The competitive nature of jobs in the hospitality and similar services sector is pushing women professionals to work extra hours and travel late in the night.
With repeated incidents of rape and abuse being reported, we asked young professionals to share their experiences and tell us what advice they'd like to give to others who, like them, travel late.
Suchita Menon, 32, an associate events manager at a Mumbai-based company, has been travelling late in the night for seven years now.
As part of her job, she travels to New Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Pune, Bangalore and Jaipur and often works with new crew members -- caterers, corporate executives, technicians etc.
While she blames poor security and lack of prompt resources in public transport -- namely, buses and local trains at night -- she advises women to "stay alert at all times."
For those travelling late, Suchita has the following advice:
- If you stay far from the office and have the option to spend the night at a close friend's place, always do that instead of travelling alone in the night.
- Never trust a cab or auto driver and do not share personal information -- your family details, how much you earn, etc -- particularly if you're staying alone.
- If you're in a new city, do a thorough background check -- online reviews, recommendations -- before checking into a hotel. Also check for hidden cameras, microphones inside the room.
- If you're travelling alone, do not compromise on security by choosing low cost 'unlisted' hotels located in remote areas.
- If you're single, never hide your whereabouts from your family and loved ones.
- Always carry a portable phone charger just in case your phone's battery drains away.
- No matter how tired you are, if you're travelling alone, avoid sleeping in the cab, bus or train.
- Do not accept drinks at parties from strangers -- they could be spiked. Do not party late with strangers or 'just met' friends.
Human Resources professional Deepti Choudhary lives in suburban Mumbai and occasionally travels late from work.
Although she prefers to reach home before midnight, she keeps her folks at home informed about her whereabouts.
Deepti has the following advice for young women:
- Subscribe to a self defence class.
- Keep your family informed about your whereabouts.
- Always note down the details of the cab or bus you take and share it with family.
- Always carry a small knife and pepper spray in your bag.
Meghna Neeraj Shetty, a senior executive with a global risk firm in Mumbai often works in the 3 pm to 11 pm shift.
She shares the following advice with women who travel late:
- Do not be obsessed with your phone -- do not play games, engage in long conversations etc.
- Do not show off your expensive phone, jewellery or fancy gadgets as it might attract the wrong people.
- Be watchful of hawkers who sell wares in local trains and public transport -- they mostly travel in groups. Be alert and guarded.
- In the absence of security personnel in first class or ladies compartment, it is advisable to travel in the general compartment of local trains.
- The first three numbers on your speed dial should be that of the police control room (100) and ambulance (102) followed by your family members, starting with the most accessible to the least.
Senior copy writer Viveka Purohit, 29 who works in a leading advertising agency often has to stay back late in the office to meet deadlines and discuss work with clients.
As part of her job, she's travelled with clients -- sometimes with an all-male team -- to make business presentations and better understand the services they offer.
Having faced several instances of abuse in her eight-year-old career, Purohit appeals to women to be extra watchful of drivers, beggars, senior colleagues and resource staff who are likely to take advantage of your situation.
She has the following advice for you:
- Girls, if you're in the 9-to-5 shift, as far as possible, do not make it a habit to work beyond 8 pm. Your colleagues will sooner or later take your safety for granted and stop worrying for you beyond a point.
- If you are the only female employee in the team, try not to schedule late night meetings or presentations. Late night work often ends with late night parties -- do not put your safety at risk by hanging around late with colleagues who are drunk.
- When you’re on a business trip with all-male colleagues, do not agree for shared accommodation.
- During business trips, insist on getting the travel itenary at least a day in advance and cross check information like quality of accomodation, details of crew travelling with you, etc.
- If a male colleague tries to intimidate or abuse you, report the incident immediately, voice your disapproval and maintain distance. You may not always get a second chance to report the matter.
- If you're taking a cab or rickshaw at night, be watchful of beggars and drunkards who beg for money and help.
- Never lean out of the door of the local train at night. Beggars are known to attack you for your valuables -- phones, wallets, jewellery.
Lead image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters
Do you travel late in the night after work?
How do you stay safe?
What advice would you give young women who travel alone in the night?