01/25/2013 07:57 am ET

Shiv Sena Party Gives Knives To Women For Protection In India

Indian political party Shiv Sena handed out thousands of knives to women in Mumbai, India, for their protection in light of the horrific gang-rapes and cases of sexual assault that have ignited mass protests and debates over women's rights, according to multiple reports.

The small pocket knives were distributed by local Sena leaders in Lalbaug Wednesday night to honor the birthday of the party's late founder Bal Thackeray.

"The way you cut vegetables, cut the hand of the person who touches you the same way,” Ajay Chowdhary, head of the party's south Mumbai division, told supporters, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Chowdhary, inspired by Thackeray's belief that women should prefer a knife to lipstick, instructed the women to keep the three-inch retractable Chinese knives in their purses.

The right-leaning political party plans to give out 21,000 knives across the Indian state, AFP reports.

While Mumbai police have not taken any action against the public distribution of weapons, Asian Age reports that authorities are examining the issue. However, under Indian law, knives as large as six inches are permitted, a Sena member said, according to the Press Trust of India reports.

"The Sena has decided to empower women as the government has failed to do so," Chowdhary told Daily News & Analysis recently. Chowdhary also added that Sena plans to "take care" of any legal cases brought against women who use the knife in self-defense.

In December, Shiv Sena activists reportedly distributed chili powder packets to women for their self-protection.

Following the Dec. 18 gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi, many Indian women are said to be turning to self-defense as a means of protection against potential sexual assault.

Shiv Sena Hands Out Knives