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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 14:24 GMT
Delhi women enrol as bodyguards

By Geeta Pandey
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Women training as security officers
Jyoti Lohia [below] throws her trainer - something she loves doing
Twenty-year-old Jyoti Lohia is like many other young women in India - she loves singing and dancing to Bollywood tunes and hanging around with friends.

But that's where the similarities end, because she has made an unlikely career choice - she's training to be a personal security officer.

Jyoti is one of 16 women hired in the Indian capital, Delhi, by the Vision Security Group.

Once their training is complete, they will be deployed to protect India's rich and famous women.

At a training session Jyoti wraps her arm around the neck of her trainer - a man almost double her size - throws him to the ground and pins him with her bodyweight.

At times [women clients] feel uncomfortable with a man, but with another woman they feel at ease.
Rajiv Mathur, general manager
Vision Security Group

Jyoti's convinced she is ideal for this job.

"I'm equipped to guard not just mine, but someone else's life and possessions too. I'm fully fit - mentally, physically and emotionally," she says.

The Vision Security Group provides security guards for several multinational corporations, including McDonald's, as well as for celebrities and business people.

Why are women now entering the arena?

General manager at Vision, Rajiv Mathur, says Delhi's soaring crime rate has been a deciding factor.

"The clients asked for this kind of service. Most clients who want female security officers are women. At times they feel uncomfortable with a man, but with another woman they feel at ease. And since these women get equal training, they are capable of doing an equal job."

Black belt

Even walking in a busy shopping street in the capital can prove dangerous for a big businesswoman or a film star.

Women training as security officers
"Don't mess with us..." is the women security officers' song

If you hire Jyoti or one of her colleagues then for around $400 a month you are buying peace of mind.

Accompanying Jyoti on a training tour around Delhi's busy Janpath market, it is easy to understand the benefits.

In her smart black cargo pants, jacket and short-cropped hair, she looks like someone you wouldn't mess with.

Her black belt in martial arts and training in judo and wrestling reinforce that.

She says she enjoys beating up men.

"Yes, I love it. It's so much fun. But seriously speaking, I'd like to be someone that other women look up to. Like the supercop Kiran Bedi (India's first and highest-ranking policewoman). She's my role model."

As they let their hair down for the day after training, Jyoti and her colleagues sing a Bollywood song that Delhi's troublemakers would do well to heed.

"We know how to turn defeat into victory. Don't mess around with us..."

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