Delhi's working women kick in martial arts
Early every morning, about 50 women at a hostel here get up and get tough. The inmates of Akanksha Working Women's Hostel are taking lessons in martial arts, in the wake of several shocking sexual crimes in the city.india Updated: Mar 08, 2003 19:45 IST
Early every morning, about 50 women at a hostel here get up and get tough.
The inmates of Akanksha Working Women's Hostel are taking lessons in martial arts, in the wake of several shocking sexual crimes in the city.
Delhi Police instructors are teaching them the art of self-defence.
The idea took shape after a student of the Maulana Azad Medical College was raped in broad daylight in November last year.
Said hostel warden Ranjana Sood, "Girls from faraway places reside in our hostel. The medical college incident has scared them very much. They have been living in constant fear.
"So we approached several organisations, and Delhi Police finally came to our rescue. They teach martial arts to girls. This increases their confidence."
A 21-day workshop at the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC)-run hostel in the heart of the city started a week ago. About 50 out of the 115 women are taking the hour-long class from 6.30 a.m. every day.
"Initially, the girls felt tired and it was like a burden. But gradually it became a habit and they are feeling more confident," said Sood who is planning to introduce the course in two more NDMC-run hostels.
"Other girls will also join the workshop in batches." Namita Yadav, 23, a resident of the hostel, said: "Though I don't have much time I joined because I think it is very important. We face a lot of embarrassing incidents every day on the road."
"I am not scared now. And the classes also help keep me fresh through the day," said Yadav, a medical representative who hails from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
Although police records show instances of rape, molestation and sexual harassment have gone down in the last few years till 2002, women's activists and even police admit the records do not often reflect the reality on Delhi's mean streets.
Last year, Delhi witnessed 383 cases of rape as against 384 in 2001. Molestation cases decreased from 502 in 2001 to 423 in 2002.
On Thursday, a retired military officer raped a 17-year-old pregnant woman in south Delhi. Cases like these are not uncommon in the city.
Sood said: "We started the course after getting a feedback from the girls. They felt very insecure. Now you can see the confidence in their eyes. They feel energised after the training session.
"Their day begins with a ray of hope. We know that we cannot change the attitude of people but we can at least defend ourselves."
And that's not all. Even some elderly people from the neighbouring Aradhna Senior Citizens' Home have joined up to learn how to tackle attacks by thieves.
"The two-day session on self-defence for senior citizens is to inculcate presence of mind in them. They are not taught martial arts but learn how to tackle a particular situation," said Sood.
"Still, we ask our girls to try to escape first and fight only if it seems inevitable. This place has become difficult for women to live in."