Women armed and ready

This weekend, Sacha Lobo will learn to overpower a potential attacker by breaking his thumb or kicking him in the groin. The 19-year-old college student is preparing herself just in case anyone gets fresh with her on New Year’s Eve.

As a precautionary measure, before she heads out for a year-end party, Lobo plans to learn self-defence techniques from trainers at a special session being conducted by We the People Foundation (WPF), a not-for-profit organisation.

In a recent survey by the organisation of 1,000 women across the city, 98% of the respondents said that self-defence classes must be made mandatory in educational institutions. The survey also revealed that 54% of respondents did not know how to react when subjected to sexual harassment.

“I will be going out for a New Year’s Eve party with my friends at Mira Road and I thought I should learn at least a few skills to protect myself if anything happens,” said Lobo, a Vasai resident. “I have even convinced my mother and sister to come along.”

“We decided to conduct a self-defence training session to help women heading out on December 31 night, as the city is infamous for several incidents of attacks on women on New Year’s eve,” said Shurbhi Sharma, a member of WPF. Seven trained instructors from Women against Rape and Domestic Abuse (WARDA), a non-profit organisation, will teach women several techniques such as a destructive elbow attack and a hammer fist strike (see illustrations).

On December 6, 35 students of St Andrew’s College, Bandra, took their first class from a martial arts trainer after the college introduced a certificate course in self-defence. “I thought this was the best way to empower young girls who are vulnerable to attacks and equip them with self-defence techniques,” said Shubda Malhotra, professor in-charge of the gender cell.

“It has become absolutely necessary for girls to learn how to protect themselves,” said Javed Khan, founder of WARDA. The organisation will begin self-defence classes next year and will even send instructors home.


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