Jyoti Kumari, a victim of child marriage, has become an inspiration for girls in her village. The student of Bihar’s Adarsh Prathmik Harijan Vidyalaya in Athmalgola has been learning karate and now even teaches others in her school.
“Earlier villagers thought it is not possible for us to accomplish this task. But we proved them wrong. Now, not only my parents, but even my in-laws and husband are also encouraging me to go in for further training in self- defence. This is my right which none can stop me from learning,” says Jyoti.
Learning Judo and Karate has worked wonders for young rural girls. With confidence levels soaring after training in the art of self-defence under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, 1,000-odd girls from a rural hinterland of Bihar now want to do the ‘Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’ in real life.
Shakti Sinha, a student of Class XI of Rabindra Balika Vidyalaya, Patna, sounds confident. “My parents were earlier not ready for this. They thought being a girl I am not physically made for such things. But I started learning Karate secretly and after some time they realised they were wrong. They started appreciating me.”
Like Shakti, girls of 77 schools representing nine blocks of Bihar are learning this art with the help of an NGO — School of Martial Arts — under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Altogether 30 girls were felicitated for their outstanding performance on Thursday.
The government programme is likely to be taken up in more areas. “Our trainers visit far flung rural areas to teach them Judo-Karate as part of a government programme to empower girls”, said Arvind Kumar, secretary of the NGO.