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OPINION / ANALYSIS

Striking at the Roots: Fighting Crime against Women through Self- Defence Training in Delhi

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Loveleen Kaur
August 22, 2008

To control increasing crime against women has been the most challenging task for Delhi Police. To tackle this dangerous situation, the Delhi Police started with an innovative approach of training women in self defence training in 2002. The incidents that almost remained unnoticed and unregistered now have acquired increasing awareness and a proactive attitude to fight and eradicate them from the society. The Police instead of delivering lectures or talks directly reached the target audience. The women who otherwise would conveniently hide the incidence under the carpet are encouraged to face the situation and fight it courageously. It is often said that women herself is responsible for any mishap. But women have been suppressed for ages and have been playing the role of silent victims. The roots of these incidents lie in the fact that girls have most often been raised by suppressing their feelings, their rights and they themselves are not sure of their self identity. Assertiveness training at the mass level was always required and long over due.

This programme is an initiative taken by state government of Delhi. The Crime Against Women Cell conducts this fifteen day workshop for women of all ages, coming from all walks of life-including students, professionals, adolescent girls, illiterate women, labourers and elderly women. The idea behind such training is to inculcate assertiveness in ladies so that they can take their own stand, to believe in themselves, to believe that they have equal rights and privileges in the society. This society is actually made of men and women and they are equal shareholders. The training aims at making girls physically strong, giving tips to stay healthy, benefits of exercising for only a physically fit body can take on any challenges of life.

The first thing that the training teaches is assertiveness to bring in self-belief. The loud and shivering voice of the women police trainers awakens the participants from the deep sleep of suppression for generations and ages. The session begins with warm up exercises, stretching, jogging etc. It is surprising as well as self evident to find that the grip of suppression is so tight that could be felt in the stiff muscles of the participants. While watching them jumping, giggling it appears as if it’s the first time that they got their private space and nobody is judging them or scolding them, they are free to move around. For this could be the reason that very few girls miss these sessions. This is good to see that the seed of self-belief and awareness is sown. It proceeds to basics of martial arts, various types of punches, neck-locks, use of available prompts like books, pens, dupatta, sandals and if they fail to use these then screaming at the top of the voice would always work. The energy level rises, as girls feel more confident to see that they are getting equipped to face any kind of encounter.

It’s true that everything is in the mind, if the mind thinks and signals that there is no need to panic and worry then the body follows its orders. A dupatta could make the girl trapped and be tied; and the same dupatta that could take the offenders neck into a grip and trap the attacker. These types of programmes have many benefits to adolescents who are yet to take their first step in the outside world, to make them fully acquainted of the types of situation they could fall into. Equal is the benefit to the older women who lost their self-belief in the course of their life; it helps to regain the lost confidence. 5.

These types of programmes have the potential to do wonders at the level of the society. Though, a lot has to be done at the level of family, and most importantly at the personal level. The inculcation of self belief and self respect is required at the early stage of childhood. The girls have to be vigilant of their surroundings, whether outside or even right inside the comforts of her home. Crime can take any form from eve-teasing, sexual harassment at workplace, rape to domestic violence.

The independent and working women in the city struggle hard to get into the terms with the man; some might end up in divorce. However it says something about the male psyche that they become insecure as they have to deal with persons who are at the same level. For his conditioning was never like this. He was always made to believe that he is the decision maker and driver of the family. The man needs to learn the art of compromising and adjusting with an equal partner. The man should no longer be the dictator in an equal relationship. The sooner the women understand and make the male folk understand the sooner the problem of domestic violence will end. It’s easy to fight with the stranger than with the known people.

For the harmonious society man and woman have to walk hand in hand, each of them when understands their rights as well as limits then our society would be the most beautiful place to live in. We might not need such training camps then; till then girls will need such trainings to raise their self-believe so that they become confident, assertive and treated as human beings with dignity and respect.

The author is a Delhi based Human Rights Activist and a Life Skills Trainer