When a man fell on Naomi Pinto in a crowded bus a few days ago, she hit him back. When he shouted, she told him if he couldn’t behave himself, then neither could she.
Pinto, 19, a second-year student of St Andrew’s College, Bandra, has attended five self-defence classes at her college, and is already putting to use what she has learnt. “It’s been really effective,” she said. “I’m always alert and prepared to fight back.”
Ever since a 23-year-old girl was gang raped and assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi last month, city colleges have sprung into action to ensure that their students have some basic knowledge of self-defence.
St Andrew’s started the classes a few months ago, even before the incident, while SIES College and Jai Hind have had demonstrations in the past week. ML Dahanukar College in Vile Parle is also planning sessions for its students.
But how feasible are these measures and do they really help? “Even though you may not be physically stronger, it makes you psychologically stronger,” said Madhavi Pethe, principal of ML Dahanukar. “You will be better prepared.”
“It equips you with certain skills such as how to react to a potential offender, but in the long run if you are to ensure that these incidents don’t happen you should address the male mindset,” said Harish Sadani, founder-member and honourary secretary, Men Against Violence and Abuse, an organisation working with men against gender violence.