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Combat specialist and security consultant Paul Daniel Nahous

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Combat specialist and security consultant Paul Daniel Nahous says he supports the call from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to allow women to use pepper spray to protect themselves. But Nahous says there must be proper training before pepper spray is regulated for use.

Griffith made the call on Tuesday during a press conference, saying he intends to lobby Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to change this country’s legislation to allow women to use the devices to protect themselves from predators.

In an interview with Guardian Media at his Port-of-Spain office yesterday, Nahous said women and girls are under siege in T&T.

“Women have become the target front and centre, so it’s very important that women empower themselves and learn to defend themselves in any way possible,” he said.

“I agree with the Commissioner that we need to open up more avenues for women to defend themselves and with his call for more women to apply for Firearm Users’ Licenses. But you have to have proper training because a firearm, pepper spray, anything like that, is almost useless unless you have the proper training to use it and the proper training and to use it in a situation where you are under attack or where you are under pressure.”

He said there are different types of pepper spray on the international market and women need to be able to select and use the best one for their protection.

Nahous said when pepper spray is used correctly, it can affect an attacker’s ability to see, breathe and it has a disorienting effect that allows victims a chance to escape.

But he pointed out that many of the more vicious attacks against women are carried out by groups of two or more men.

“Most of the attacks happen in groups, how often do you hear somebody being kidnapped, raped, assaulted by one person? And again, we are going back into training, three people approach you and you have a certain type of pepper spray, is the equipment adequate?

“This means you have to carry the most adequate equipment when you are going anywhere. Also, are you trained to deal with multiple attackers? Are you trained to escape from them?”

He also warned that women should not become complacent once they have pepper spray or even if they have a firearm. He said they should think of these tools of protection as swords rather than shields.

Nahous said T&T’s ever-increasing crime rate means that law-abiding citizens may be under surveillance by criminals as they go about their daily lives. He said one of the most important tools in protecting oneself is being aware of one’s surroundings.

“Pepper spray or even a firearm are not going to protect you like some kind of magic totem, not because you have this on you and a lot of people fall into that pit, that because I have a firearm I am protected, you are not protected by virtue of having the item, it’s a tool to protect yourself.”

Nahous called on large companies and conglomerates to provide transportation for their female employees who work the night shift, as he said companies often spend thousands protecting their physical assets.

“These women are your human assets, if you are not willing to put out something extra to guarantee they can make it home safely, especially when they work into all hours of the night, do you really value them and their contribution?” he asked.

Nahous said he will also offer some hand-to-hand combat training for women and girls living in depressed communities for free, as he said some women may not be able to afford the training they need to protect themselves.