Seasonal, makeshift stalls erected in privately-owned properties can become a breeding ground for molesters wanting to prey on enthusiastic women shoppers. Read on to see how women can enjoy their shopping while securing themselves against these deviant-minded criminals, without requiring any self-defence techniques or depending on external support

Many temporary stalls open up during summer vacations or just before major festivals like Diwali. Some are in zoned areas allotted by the Municipal authorities, but a majority of them set shop on the street. Many city-based residents open up their premises to relatives from the villages to display and sell home-made products. 

Consumers flock to these small stalls looking out for authentic items or to get good, cost-saving deals than a regular market. These are seasonal and temporary stalls that remain open for a week or a fortnight.

The stall owners employ their own people to take care of the space, as well as, engage customers into buying more products. Their target audience is ladies who are the main shoppers for their families. Attracting them with authentic goods at lower prices is the main strategy of these make-shift marketplaces. 

However, it has to be understood that these makeshift markets stand on private property which are not zoned to be regular marketplaces. These stalls are not run by licensed vendors who are regulated by the local Municipal authorities. They are also not given security clearances by the law enforcement authorities. In many aspects, these stalls erected on private property are illegal, which is why they are open only for short period to gain maximum sales. The volume of customers – especially, women - visiting these places is humongous due to their novel offerings. This makes a potential breeding ground of crime and criminals.

Security pointers to be kept in mind by women visiting such stalls:

  • You are visiting a private property of a home owner opened for a particular period for a particular purpose only which is dictated by that particular owner of that space.
  • You have allowed yourself to be under the scrutiny of the home owner and his staff who have express rights and permissions to use and move in that particular private property which otherwise is closed for strangers and outsiders on regular days.
  • You have to follow a particular social behaviour pattern discreetly governed by the owner of the premises which may fall in the group of good conduct as long as it is beneficial to the property owner. 
  • You have been unknowingly lured in by your behavioural traits for novelty, cheap deals and for seeking variety in your lifestyle and pantry into a private domain, where otherwise you could be labelled and prosecuted as a ‘trespasser’ on regular days.
  • As long as you conduct yourself properly as deemed fit by the property owner and his staff you can get to purchase the goods, which means you have given up a part of your civil liberties for a short period of time into the hands of those people.

This translates into certain undesirable situations for you as a consumer, which are:

  • You are liable to be groped or fondled by the property owner or his staff under the pretext of making a sale.
  • Your children if they are with you may be enticed with goodies by the owner or staff and may fall victim to molestation while you are in the frenzy of shopping (molesters require on a very brief time with their child victims to satisfy their animal desires)
  • If you raise objections or an alarm to their undesirable attentions and actions, YOU are the one who is liable to be prosecuted on grounds of being a trespasser on their property!

How to remain secure in these makeshift, private shops?

  • Visit these marketplaces during the day, criminals of opportunity do not like to make their moves when there is broad daylight, people are energised and have their senses sharp towards their surroundings.
  • During the daylight hours, there are no shadows falling within the makeshift marketplace which create dark zones for the people with immoral intent to take advantage of to grope or molest you or your child.
  • Any ill-intention displayed by the owner of the space or his staff is effectively deterred by the time of the day itself, and if otherwise they do try to execute their criminal intent on you or your accompanying children, you can raise an alarm which allows fellow shoppers to take notice and intervene to separate the would-be offender from the would-be victim.
  • This also allows you as a consumer and a citizen to call for help from the police who can effective take charge of the situation as they are deployed in good numbers during the day throughout the city. 
  • Be aware of the location of such places. They should not be located:
    • at the back-end of buildings or bungalows.
    • underground car parks of housing societies.
    • at the end of narrow lanes within a bungalow property or at the dead-ends of a gated     community.
    • places which are located nearby heavy foliage trees or thick shrubbery lines.
  • You may visit these marketplaces one day just to look around and orient yourself as to what you want to buy, thereafter you can go back the next day or any day till the marketplace is open and only buy specific products you wish to buy. Do understand the more you linger the more eyes are set onto you and the offenders become more confident that they can discreetly guide you to places which are out of public sight on the pretext of showing you more products or trying to get you a better deal and commit their heinous act. Therefore, “QUICK IN, QUICK OUT” should be the buyer’s mantra. 
  • Keep your purses close to your body lest they be an impediment in your free movement in such confined spaces.
  • Carry specific amount of cash for the purpose of visiting this market only. The more you open your purse or haggle for prices or dig into your purse for change while engaging in verbal bargaining at the counters you are already giving the offender ample time to observe your body and its language enabling him to make a decision whether to mark you as his victim or not. Many a times he may not only just grope you but also pick pocket you while you are struggling to maintain your composure.
  • Avoid visiting these places when you already have heavy shopping bags in your hand. In this state you are extremely restricted in your movements, your attention is severely impaired towards handling your dress, purse as well as the heavy shopping bags. This glaring shows that the person is disoriented towards her surroundings and this window of opportunity can be exploited by molesters to their advantage.

Stay alert, stay safe to shop happily

Molesters look like regular people, dress like regular people but think differently from regular people. Perversions and kinks of a person’s psychological makeup cannot be identified by any person within minutes of meeting him/her. Therefore, the onus falls upon the buyers who frequent these types of marketplaces to plan a visit rather than rush into such places as a passing fancy. Planning helps you to be in control of your senses as you are rationally balanced as to what you are required to buy. Planning allows you to be in such places for short period of time and your crisp transaction methods give out a signal of confidence that the buyer knows what she wants and at what price, which in itself deters potential offenders from finding loopholes in your behavioural patterns of shopping. Molesters like to passively engage their victims through talk in order to get them closer for them to touch while gropers like to use the window of opportunity when the victim is distracted or mentally fatigued to notice their actions onto her body.

Therefore, it is recommended to go to these makeshift markets when you are energised in mind and body where you can catch certain covert body language or non-verbal signals immediately on occurrence or can effectively deter perverts who wish to make a move onto you by your energetic demeanour. ”STAY SAFE, STAY SECURE !!” 

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