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Self-Defense for Women in India is Much Needed

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By Abdul Wahid Khan:

In India, the cases of gender violence are increasing and many of which go unreported or unregistered. This is because India is a place where women are taught not to get raped but men are not taught to not to rape. But for the moment, it is very important for women in India to learn self-defence for their own safety and survival. Studies have shown that criminals choose those targets more that are unaware of their surroundings and about what is going on around them. So, it is time to beware of everything because anytime, attack can happen in any form.

Most common forms of attack in India are rape, kidnapping, murder and molestation. Acid attack has also become common in which men throw acid on women’s face to take revenge or some equally ridiculous reasons. It can not only burn and disfigure the face and destroy it forever, but can be fatal in many cases. Eve teasing- a term that should be reserved just for India- is also quite common in public places. It is another word for molestation in some form.

Women should be prepared for such attacks. They can learn self-defence techniques and make themselves more prepared for any situation. First thing noted by experts is lack of logic in such circumstances. They emphasize that women should be careful in everything they do and everywhere they go. For example, if they are alone at home during such an attack, they should run to kitchen and find knives and chilli powder to make up to a deadly weapon. They should also first note down the registration number of taxis if they are travelling alone in late night. Besides, defence classes have been started in different parts of the country in several major and small cities. They teach basic karate, Israeli krav-maga, jeet kune do kickboxing, and traditional stick fighting (using lathi). One such example of women self-defence training institute is DARE (Defence against rape and eve teasers) by Institute of Martial Science in Mumbai. Studies have shown that men are less willing to attack those women who fight physically. So, Blank Noise, an organization for women self-defence awareness, emphasizes that women should not feel like the victim in such case and should feel like a hero and fight back. It is analogous to the fact that homosexual men do not attack other men for physical harassment because they know that a hard punch would be coming back on them soon.

Different organizations are working on protection of women. Some of the most prominent are Blank Noise, Pink Chaddi Movement, Smile Foundation and Gulabi Gang. Blank Noise was founded by Jasmeen Patheja. It uses social media channels like Facebook, twitter, and blogging to help women fight street violence. It also creates online events on Facebook and offline on the road events and demonstrations to increase awareness about street violence. Jasmeen started it because she saw such things happening every day and she felt that most of women around her are not noticing it.

On the other hand, pink chaddi movement was started by Ms. Nisha Susan in response to an attack by Ram Sena, a rightist Hindu party, on women in pubs. In this movement, women all over the country were asked to send their pink underwear to head of Ram Sena, Pramod Muthalik, requesting him to stop adopting wrong ways to treat women. The Gulabi Gang or “rose gang” is for women safety and empowerment started by Sampath Pal Devi in rural area of Uttar Pradesh. She and her gang members wear pink color sarees and have lathis (sticks) in their hands. Their aim is to remove non-cooperative officers who do not take gender violence seriously and who do not register such cases under the influence of money. They also work for women empowerment through practical training. They give self-defence lessons too. Smile Foundation has organized workshops for women self-defence in Delhi, which was attended by lot of young girls and women. Delhi police also helped in organizing such workshop.

Though the self-defence training is much easily available in metro cities of the country, it is not that common in tier-II or tier-III cities. But women can always make themselves aware by reading up news about gender violence in newspapers, magazines and television. Women in smaller cities who can access internet have YouTube at their disposal and they can learn all techniques from such websites with proper tutorials and training content. On the other hand, those in rural areas are really hard to reach and NGOs should make it a point to reach them.

You must be to comment.
  1. Priya Rajan

    hey guys please read this page, its a non profit organization trying to help citizens of India to be more equipped in a dangerous situation so you can either help yourself or others in the time of need. So if you find it interesting please like it and share…this could help lot of people save lives in time.:) 
    This is the link to the page: http://www.facebook.com/SurvivalInstincts

  2. Priya Rajan

    You should look into survival instincts page on Facebook, they teach you the self defense and other survival instincts you need for a day to day basis…

  3. Franklin Joseph

    Women Self Defense: Is it just about punches and kicks, or is it about some tricks of martial arts that would make sure NO harm will fall on the lady. Punches and Kicks yes, when you learn it in so called self defense class you start to believe you are powerful as usually you are hitting air or a bag. But the women is unaware of the reality of being hit, injured, fear factor and pain factor of a real attack on a women. So even if the guy pulls the hair or slap the women, she is in shock. And fear sets in. By the time she might react, the man would actually get more angry and hurt the women more. So just learning punches and kicks are they enough? Ask yourself? Second, tricks of martial arts. The person who will showcase these to you have practiced it for years and years so that why it’s looks so simple and easy. But in the heat of the attack, when you are in fear and worried about being injured more, you will not remember the correct sequence of the TRICK. Then what??? 

    Lastly, lot of self defense tactics requires strength, fitness and flexibility. can a 5feet tall small women handle the strength of a bigger stronger man as if she shows strength he would show strength. We at http://PowertoWomen.in have series of workshop on how to PREVENT, AVOID and ESCAPE. Women Safety Awareness, Self Defense using Reflex Actions, Psychological Empowerment and Preparation against Crime, Gender Violence and Sexual Abuse or Harassment. Get Educated, Get Empowered. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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