Dr. Shruti Kapoor featured in the South Asian Times

Sayfty: Protecting Women Against Violence

Original article  – Karishma Asoodani, South Asian Times

“A girl’s safety is not the problem of only a handful, it’s a problem of the society,” argues Dr. Shruti Kapoor, an economist by education and a crusader by heart who founded Sayfty with a mission to help women protect themselves against violence by equipping them with personal safety products, information and awareness.

Now based in Brooklyn, NY, Dr Kapoor’s own life has not been an easy ride. Since her childhood in India she had to struggle. Be it joining an all girls college or moving around alone in cities. At every step, someone whispered, some stared, some followed and some advised.

“I wish growing up things were safer for me and every other girl in India. Unfortunately over the past decade, when it comes to women’s safety, things have just deteriorated in India. Incidents of violence against women have been consistently rising. ‘A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India’ – a fact that is so disturbing and so wrong. In fact, the horrific gang-rape incident in a Delhi bus in 2012 shook me to the core. The brutality of the event opened my eyes to how unsafe India has become for girls and women,” she says.

Shruti Kapoor first came to the US in 2000 for her master’s degree and ended up earning a Ph D from University of California and worked as a consultant with the World Bank till 2010. Says she, “As a woman I still have to look out for my safety, be mindful when I am walking down a dark alley in the city. I still have to be careful, but I don’t live with a constant fear. I am aware, educated and I know what I need to do should danger strike.  Unfortunately, there are many parts of the world where young women like me cannot even walk the streets with a sense of security. Can you imagine what that must feel like?”

It is this thought process that propelled her in 2013 to start Sayfty, an organization that aims to educate, equip and empower women through an online awareness policy (and advocacy) discussing evils like violence against women, domestic violence, marital rape, discussions on gender awareness, feminism in general, and relevant laws. Sayfty empowers women through conducting self-defense workshops, which includes working with young girls and women. The organization imparts tools (like pepper spray, keyring alarm, lipstick spray) and techniques to help women protect and secure themselves against violence.

One of the ways Sayfty is reaching out to people is by organizing active Twitter chats where women and men discuss issues from sensitive ones like menstruation to domestic violence. The key idea is to build up courage and confidence to speak up about what’s right and what’s not.

An inspiration to many, entrepreneur Dr Kapoor was awarded the third prize (10,000 euros) at 2015 Woman of the Year event by Regional Council of Aosta Valley in Italy. She was also invited to speak last month at United State of Women summit in Washington DC convened by the White House. For information, sayfty.com.