New Delhi: The brutal gangrape in Delhi has put the focus on security for women. But there is one place in Delhi where school girls are learning the art of self-defence. A group of specially-trained women constables helps girls learn self defence.
Sixteen-year-old Mariya Khan oozes confidence as she walks to her school. Her steely eyes and reflexive biceps can now handle all the unwanted male attention. In New Delhi's Jamia Nagar, over 200 girls like Mariya have enrolled in the workshop to learn the art of self-defence and protect themselves from predators in a city that has the highest rate of crime against women.
"I never had the confidence to speak to strangers. But now, I am confident. I know that if something wrong happens with me, I can defend myself," she says.
The workshop organised by the Women's Studies Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia and the Delhi Police teaches school girls the basic techniques of self defence. "The focus is also on trying to make them understand the significance of being a woman and being assertive, the idea is not to show aggression. But in case the other side is aggressive we should be able to cope with it. This is not meant to be offensive. And the idea behind it is really to have gender equity," says Dr Bulbul Dhar-James, the Director of the Women's Studies Centre.
Lady trainers from the special police unit teach techniques that will help the girls defend themselves from any unwanted advances in public places and at home. They teach no arms or weapons, but how simple, daily items like notebooks, pens and school bags can be ammunition enough.
"We tell the girls that if you are are empty-handed you can use a shawl to defend yourself. If someone attacks them with a knife, they are taught to defend themselves. We tell them that the first thing they need to have is presence of mind when someone attacks them," says a trainer Nishu.
The enthusiasm in the girls is palpable and the overwhelming response has led Jamia Millia Islamia to plan one for the women at the local Jamia Nagar as well. Every punch, every kick that the girls take is a step towards more confidence and empowerment. The skills that they learn inside the hall will help them defend themselves and fight back outside on the streets.