Pepper for protection: one man’s idea to help women defend against attack

Pepper power: Cass Schlitz and Ian Stroud with a small container filled with black pepper that Mr Stroud believes could help to save a woman's life. Picture: Melanie Leach

Pepper power: Cass Schlitz and Ian Stroud with a small container filled with black pepper that Mr Stroud believes could help to save a woman's life. Picture: Melanie Leach

A Merimbula resident has had enough of hearing about the constant violence towards women in Australia and wants to find a way to empower women.

Ian Stroud, 86, believes his idea, while not being the solution to the real problem causing the violence, could mean the difference between life and death for a woman under attack. 

While it is illegal to carry a weapon for self-defense, Mr Stroud said women should have the right to protect themselves. 

“My basic theory is that women must have a defense against assault and the way it can be done without having guns or knives or anything lethal is to use pepper in a little pouch and throw it in the eyes of anyone who attacks,” Mr Stroud said.

He believes the pain of having pepper thrown in the attacker’s eye would give the woman enough time to run to safety and call the police.  

“I believe there is no real protection for women at the moment and it’s not right. Women should have the ability to defend themselves. This won’t cause lasting damage to the man or the person attacking them but it could save a woman’s life.

“I’m trying to come up with an idea. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be needed but one woman is dying every week in Australia. Women need something, anything to stop this happening.

“It just irritates me every time I hear that another woman has been bashed or killed. When is it going to stop? This is something simple that women can do, so if they are in this horrible position it gives them a chance of survival,” he said.

With little satchels of pepper in his pocket, Mr Stroud has approached local women and asked their opinion on his pepper protection proposal. 

He said the response has been overwhelmingly positive with one woman, 28-year-old Cass Schlitz, praising the way it has given her more confidence. 

Ms Schlitz was left scarred, both mentally and physically, after she was recently attacked and bitten by a dog while out walking her own dog. She lifted her pet into her arms but the dog still attacked, biting her hard and hitting a major artery. 

“Fighting to get the dog off me was so frightening, I think throwing a little bit of pepper in the dog’s eyes would have helped. Carrying it when walking my dog just gives me a sense of security.”

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