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Self-Defense for Women in India is Much Needed

Posted on May 8, 2012 in Society

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.