Opinions: If in danger, what would you do?

We asked women round the country to imagine this scenario:

You are walking down a quiet street, two minutes from home, as it grows dark. A man walks towards you, and as you pass, for no apparent reason he tries to grab your arm. What do you do?

MARIA RAGUSA, 39, self- defence instructor, Brighton: The worst thing to do is freeze up. Don't wait to find out what he wants - stand square and shout at him. If he doesn't let go, kick at his shins, aim a blow at the bridge of his nose. Then run. Whatever you do, do it with all your force.

GERMAINE GREER, 53, writer, Essex: I'd belt him, of course. Because I live in the country I don't tend to walk much - I usually go out in the car. But of course I go out alone and have walked back along a country hedgerow late at night. But I'm six feet tall and don't carry a handbag. A man attacked me once in Lyon: I chased him and grabbed him by the shirt tails and made him scream. I'm wary, but not afraid. I've never done self-defence. I suppose it lets you think you could handle a situation, and you probably could, but what are you going to do if you're 96? Hit him with your walking frame? Fear is not the prerogative of women, however. Men are probably more likely to get attacked on the streets. How can women defend themselves? It's not necessary to dress like a Sherman tank, but high heels are bloody stupid.

BARBARA CARTLAND, 91, author, Hertfordshire: I would never put myself in that situation. You can't walk around the streets, you must have an escort. Women have to realise things are difficult and protect themselves.

EMMA CADZOW, 22, student, Broxburn, Lothian: I wouldn't do anything - I'd let him take my bag. I was attacked last year at 7.30am, walking from my home to a country bus stop. But it hasn't made me afraid to go out - I refuse to let people like that ruin my life. I have done a self-defence course, but it wasn't much use.

POLLY FAWCITT, late 40s, charity administrator, Willingham, Cambs: I've never been attacked, so I don't quite know. There are basic self-defence techniques women should all know, but mostly we don't.

CAROLINE MANGHAM, 23, nanny, Braintree, Essex: I'd just kick him in the balls. If that didn't work I'd spray him in the face with some perfume; I always carry some for that reason. Since the Rachel murder I refuse to walk in the woods near where I live. I definitely wouldn't use public transport late at night.

RHONDA PAISLEY, 33, Belfast councillor and Democratic Unionist Party spokesperson: I'd run. I don't really worry about going out alone. I don't have a false sense of security, I'm just careful. I would hesitate to say that Belfast is safe for women, but relatively few women are attacked in Northern Ireland compared to other regions. I know women who are still happy to walk at night, even in the city centre. I believe very strongly that girls should learn self-defence in the school curriculum.

DAVIDA HIGGIN, 65, retired nursery teacher, Shotesham village, Norfolk: I would try to scream, but I don't know what would happen next. I don't like that feeling of being restricted - it makes me feel as though my civil rights are being infringed.

ANTONIA WARD, 19, student, Liverpool: I'd scream 'fire'; I was told in my self-defence class that it is better to shout that rather than 'rape', because people are more likely to respond. We were also told to pull out their ear-rings and poke them in the eye, but I don't know if I'd have time to think about it. I tend to carry a rape alarm, but I don't walk anywhere late at night on my own.

BETTY CLAY, 41, nurse, York: I'd scream, knee him, and go for the eyes with a Biro. I was flashed at once in Newcastle. A nice-looking man rolled up on his bike, and said 'Have you seen one of these before?' and proudly whipped out his penis. It was ironic because I was working in the urology department at the time. He didn't attack me, he just cycled off. York is much safer.

(Photographs omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk