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Indian women fight fear of rape with self-defensive measures

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LUCKNOW, India — On the rooftop of a working-class apartment building, 15 young women kicked, punched, and tossed each other onto a mattress one recent day, as they role-played being victims of sexual assault.

The self-defense class signaled a remarkable change in a country where women long relied on male relatives accompanying them for safety.

In the wake of a gruesome gang-rape that stunned the nation, Indian women are now equipping themselves for self-protection. Sales of pepper spray have jumped. Many women are downloading smartphone apps enabling them to seek help if they are stalked. A weapons factory is producing a ‘‘lady’s gun.’’ And the self-defense group here scheduled a megaclass to teach hundreds of women how to target assailants’ groins.

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