How a woman can retaliate

YOU have all seen the television commercial - a woman is returning home alone at night in a deserted street or car park; a man is stalking her and she is attacked; a policeman races to her assistance within seconds.

In reality, there is often no one around to help. Every day, at least two women in Hong Kong are raped or attacked.

Police statistics show 20 women were raped in first quarter of this year, while more than 200 were indecently assaulted. And those are just the reported cases.

Detectives are hunting their third serial attacker this year. In Tuen Mun, two women have been murdered, and in Tin Shui Wai four pre-teenage girls sexually assaulted. Two were raped.

Now, increasing numbers of women are turning to self-defence classes to protect themselves.

Martial artist and self-defence expert Ian Dunn is a third-dan aikido instructor and British Sports Council instructor. He represented England in 1989 in Japan in the first international aikido competition, and took part for Hong Kong in the second competition.

He teaches self-defence at the YWCA in Central, and agreed to give Sunday Morning Post readers tips on the best ways to stay safe, and how to escape if you are attacked.

PREVENTION The first step to safety is to avoid becoming a target of an attacker. Mr Dunn advised women not to make themselves vulnerable.

''Take off or hide jewellery, and put it on when you get to wherever you're going. Wear flat shoes that are good for running in, and carry high heels with you if you want to change,'' he said.

''Don't walk too close to buildings, because an attacker can drag you into an alley. Similarly, walk towards on-coming traffic to prevent kerb-crawlers. Look around you all the time. Glance over your shoulder every now and then, or use the reflection in shop windows or mirrors to check.

''Walk in well-lit areas; don't take short cuts through dim, covered areas, and walk confidently, proud and alert. Also, try to vary your routine; don't always leave home and work at the same time.'' Mr Dunn warned that personal stereos, handbags and scarves could be dangerous, because an attacker could easily use them to strangle their victim. Hoods can muffle sound and block vision.

''On public transport, sit as close to the driver or guard as possible. Note where the alarm is situated, and make sure you can see the doors and the rest of the compartment.

''At home, have security locks and chains fitted to windows and doors, and put spy holes in outer doors. Fit outside lights, check the identity of callers, and don't let them in if you are worried.

''Don't put your name on your key-ring, and use only your last name on mail boxes, and in telephone directories. Don't give clues to potential intruders.

''In your car, lock doors and windows when travelling alone. Park in well-lit areas, near other vehicles. Have both car and house keys ready.

''If you are being followed, drive around in a circle. If you are still being followed, drive to the nearest police station, and try to make a note of the car registration.'' ATTACK ''The first step in deflecting an attack is to use your voice. Most people freeze up, but talking can help diffuse the situation and it can keep your mind clear,'' said Mr Dunn.

''You can try to relate to him; ask how he would like it if his mother or sister was attacked, try to persuade him out of it by pretending you want to meet him later, ask if he's got a condom. Try anything; you've got nothing to lose. You can never do enough.'' He advised women to keep moving. ''Once you are moving, he has to move too, and you can give yourself some distance.'' FIGHTING BACK This is a controversial subject, as police advise women that once they are in an inescapable situation, it is better for their own safety to become passive.

''Experience has shown that putting up a struggle when you will not be heard or found only results in more violence,'' said Staff Officer Graham Lander, of the Crime Prevention Bureau.

''In Tuen Mun recently some of the attacks turned into homicides, which suggests he did not always want to kill, but perhaps was forced into it.'' Mr Dunn became angry at suggestions that women should be passive. He advised them to wait only until a good opportunity arose for escape.

''Sometimes women are advised not to fight back, to give in and hope he only rapes, doesn't kill. But there are no guarantees.

''The people that say that are usually men, and you can be sure that if someone hits them, they are going to hit back.

''A woman's best weapons are her hands and feet. They have got to get aggressive and go for the attacker. Confidence is the key, and fighting back will be a counter surprise,'' he said.

Mr Dunn teaches women how to take advantage of the vulnerable areas of a man's body.

''You can poke him in the eye. It sounds gross, but at the end of the day he's out to hurt you.

''Cupping your hands to collect air and hitting him round the ears can burst his eardrums, and hitting him upwards under the nose can knock someone out or even kill them.

''The voice box is a weak area, as is the diaphragm, which you should hit with a fist or elbow in an upwards jab.

''Then of course there's the classic 'family heirloom'. It is better to knee a man in the groin rather than hit him from above. It will hurt more.

''You can kick his knees, straight on or from the side. You can try stamping on his feet but often that doesn't work, especially if you're grabbed from behind.

''You should go for joints, like the wrist and fingers. Whichever way you twist, it will hurt him.'' RAPE ''I always say, a girl can run faster with her skirt up than a man can with his trousers down,'' said Mr Dunn.

''If you are about to be raped, and the attacker is on top of you, you can't do very much initially, because if you struggle, all he has to do is hit you.

''If he wants to kiss, you could kiss. It will make him feel more confident, and he will start to relax. He will start to go for your chest, or clothing, and that gives you some opportunity to fight back. You can try to twist his arm, bring your knee up and throw him off you, bringing your knee into his groin.

''Another good opportunity is when he goes to take his trousers down. You can't knee him in the groin then, because he has the protection of his trouser crotch, but you can hit him in the throat or under his chin and push him off you.

''If he is about to penetrate, you can actually pretend to be helping him, and start to caress him, then twist and pull hard.'' WEAPONS Mr Dunn warned that self-defence weapons such as Mace and alarms could be counter-productive.

''First of all, they're probably in your handbag and you would not have time to hunt through and find them. A spray could easily be turned on you.'' He advised women not to rely on rape alarms. ''People hear screams for help or alarms going off and assume it is kids playing. No one takes any notice,'' he said. But Staff Officer Lander disagreed, and said police advised women to carry alarms or horns to attract attention.

If the attacker had weapons such as a chopper, knife, screwdriver or hammer, Mr Dunn advised women to keep moving, and watch the assailant, not the weapon.

''People can become hypnotised by a weapon, but this is dangerous. You need to watch him, so if he lifts an arm to strike, you know where it is coming from, and where it is aimed.

''Keep moving, try to keep a distance between you, try to block his blows with your arm.'' Self-defence courses are available at the YWCA in Central, and the police Crime Prevention Bureau has specially trained women officers to give talks and teach self-defence to women's groups. All men, including police officers, are excluded from these meetings.