The Cutting Edge

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Is Allowing Women to Carry Knives for Self-Defense on Trains in Delhi a Good Idea?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Knives make poor self-defense weapons.

Not only do you have to get extremely close to your assailant but the knife can quickly be turned against you — not to mention the psychological ramifications of having to stab someone (sometimes repeatedly) less than a foot away from your face.

But Delhi Metro — the rail system serving the expansive and highly populated city in India — will now allow women to carry knives up to four inches for self-defense purposes.

This may not seem like a big deal here, but Delhi Metro officials apparently search people pretty frequently and have confiscated tons of items.

Now, I’ve never been to India and don’t know too much about the situation there, but this is a simultaneously awesome and worrying policy.

On the one hand, women are empowered to take action against attackers and knives can work quite well in dire situations. I haven’t been able to find any statistics, but I imagine many women have been victims of sexual assault on the metro.

Spyderco Matriarch 2 with Wave

On the other hand, carrying a knife for self-defense can lull people into a false sense of security. Unless you’re using it in a last-ditch effort to escape harm, wielding a knife effectively in self-defense is extremely difficult without proper training.

There are a bunch of other factors to consider as well, including the fact that 91 percent of pickpockets who frequent the Delhi Metro are women and the fact that women will have to use their discretion on what kind of response is fair game for what actions. (Stabbing someone to prevent a rape is a no-brainer but stabbing someone to stop groping may get into iffy territory.)

What do you think? Should women be encouraged to carry knives for self-defense?


Timothy Martinez Jr. is the community director for Knife Depot and the editor of The Cutting Edge. If you have any questions or ideas for The Cutting Edge, you can contact him at
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  1. I think they should be allowed to protect themselves by any means necessary. The big problem, as stated in the article will be in determining what constitutes an acceptable definition of/for a life threatening attack. Who is going to determine if a woman was correct in her response to a situation. Each woman involved can have a very different perception of what constitutes a life threatening situation for them. Especially if you throw in the fact that in the heat of the moment ones thoughts are not on what might be later, but how do I stop this now!?

  2. I encourage them to carry more than one if a hand gun is not available. The picture above will scare the crap out of anyone.

  3. I am from india and have been in the delhi and travelled in Metro, and saw the rush in the peak hours. Basically, allowing a knife to a person being a male or female without any prior training or handling experience may lead fetal consequences as in case the victim, trying to scare the assailant with the knife may injure nearby passenger, or even worse might be stabbed by the assailant with his/her own knive, so before making such decisions, authorities should take the consideration of the pros and cons of this decision.

  4. Attackers are cowards! It is very good that there is a possibility someone being attacked will pull out a knife and stab the attacker. We can be relatively sure that few people will carry the knife, But the possibility that some women will gang up on the attacker is very good. If an attacker feels he is bigger than a woman, he will usually attack at his leisure. If there is a possibility of being hurt, he will stay away.

    Limiting the knife to 3 inches, is enough to ensure that a mistaken response is probably not going to be lethal.

    This heightened danger to the attacker also applies to women caring guns. Only a few may do it, however, an attacker will think twice. He does not know who could be is caring one.This enhances everyone’s safety.

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