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What is permissible for women to carry in order to protect themselves?

This article is written by Shally Yadav, a first-year law student of Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

With increase in crimes against women there comes a need for them to protect themselves. They can’t always rely on the Police authorities to help them as timing is key. The time Police might take to respond to the situation something tragic might happen, so there comes an urgency for women to be self reliant and protect themselves.

So, to protect themselves what can women carry or do? Learning self defense techniques is ideal as when you don’t really have a tools to protect yourself, these techniques can help you to protect your body and your property.

But you can carry certain tools to protect yourself. In this article the legality of these tools would be discussed.

Tools women can carry to protect themselves and their legality

1. Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is a lachrymatory agent which causes irritation in the eyes when sprayed and can cause temporary blindness. This is one of the most popular tools which is used in self defense. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes to make them compact and easy to use.

Legality– Pepper spray is legal in India.

2. Stun Gun (Taser guns)

Stun gun is a device which when used sends an electric shock and immobilizes the attacker without causing grievous hurt. Most stun guns carry between 20,000 and 150,000 volts with an effective range of 15 to 20 feet. Some stun guns have 200,000 – 1,000,000 voltage of power, making it an effective weapon to immobilize any type of aggressor.

Legality- Although stun guns are legal in India, common people can’t carry them around without a license. Under Indian Arms Act, 1956 only licensed Police officers can use Stun gun.

3. Safety Rods

Safety rods are foldable metal rods which can be easily carried in purses. These are light in weight and can knock out the attacker in one blow.

Legality– Safety rods are legal in India. One can easily carry it with them and use it in times of need.

4. Pepper gels

Pepper gels are similar to pepper spray but have a longer range. Pepper gel has a sticky viscosity that allows it to travel further than pepper spray droplets. Most pepper gels have an effective range of up to 18 feet, compared to 12 feet for a standard pepper spray.

Legality- As in the case of pepper spray, pepper gels are also legal to use in India for self defense

5. Monkey fist knot

Monkey fist knot is a tool in which a metal ball or round marble is tied and wrapped with paracord. This tool has been in use since 1800s. Swinging this at your attacker would result in some pain and will give you the time to make yourself safe again.

Legality- Monkey fist knots are legal to use in India.

Conditions to use these tools and devices

Using these tools and devices is legal per say but there have to be certain conditions present for a person to use these tools.

Section 96 to 106 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 states the law relating to the right of Private Defense of person and property. These provisions under the Indian Penal Code gives authority to a person to use necessary force against wrong doer for the purpose of protecting one’s own body and property and also another’s body and property when immediate aid from the state machinery is not readily available  and in so doing he is not answerable in law for his deeds.

Private defense under Indian Penal Code, 1860

The condition for use of such a device in self-defense is strictly prescribed, in Sections 96–106 of the Indian Penal Code:

  1. The danger has to be an imminent threat; you cannot preemptively exercise the right to private defense.
  2. You are unable to approach public authorities for recourse against the person posing an imminent threat to you. By exercising the right to self defense, you are effectively taking the law into your own hands; it should be treated as a last resort.
  3. It is dependent on a reasonable apprehension of danger; not the extent of the danger in itself. Simply put, if you are threatened by somebody brandishing a knife, if you believe that they are highly likely to stab you and react accordingly to injure them in self defense, you are acting with reasonable apprehension of danger. Legally, it only matters that you reacted as any reasonable person would, in response to a threat perceived as real.
  4. It is a “defensive” right, not retributive or punitive. What this means is, if you’re hit by somebody, your right to defend yourself arises from a threat that you would face more beatings, and risk injury or worse. Not to hit the other person back because they hit you.
  5. The right can only be exercised against acts which are recognized by the law as offences under the Indian Penal Code 1860. It is only available against unlawful actsYou cannot exercise the right to private defense for a lawful act.
  6. The killing of the assailant or grievous injury, is allowed when exercising the right to private defense, but the situation/threat needs to have been so grave that there was no other way for you to save yourself. If you had other means of escape or of ensuring your safety, then your actions would not be considered reasonable in self defense.


Prachi Darji. “Is Stun Gun Legal in India as the Air Gun?” 26 May, 2020.

Bare Act of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

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