TWO MONTHS ago, Vaishnavi More was on her way to college in the city. A person was stalking her for more than a week. After his advances became irritating, she just followed her gut and raised an alarm. People walking on the streets came to her rescue and reprimanded the person. The man came again after two days and attacked Vaishnavi with a sharp knife.
Vaishnavi, who is trained in self defence, used her skills and retaliated the deadly attack. Though she escaped with minor injuries, a sharp knife would have led to grievous injury even threatening her life. But her training saved her life. “Thankfully, I was prepared for such incidents or else that knife would have stabbed me,” says More, who took her self defence training when she was in school. In the wake of brutal murder of Infosys employee, Rasila Raju O P, by a security guard when she was working alone on Sunday, the importance of self defence techniques being taught has yet again come into focus.
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Vikram Marathe, who teaches self defence in 7-8 schools, says the girls should be taught these skills from a young age itself. “Self defence should be taught at school level itself. The training gives confidence, concentration and the physical prowess to handle tense situations. Girls should show aggression when under threat of any kind and fight back boldly,” says Marathe, who himself is Six Dan black belt holder and has been educating girls since 1989 in self defence.
Normally, those who attack or harass girls in any way are actually cowards. Even if a girl raises her voice loudly they just disappear from the site. So rather than getting afraid girls should fight back,” says Maruthe.
gIn such situations, when the girls have to face eve-teasing or harassment from road Romeos, girls prefer to stay silent and this further encourages the culprits. The silence might lead to highly undesirable incidents in future. To avoid it, the only proper way is to fight back,” says RS Kohli, who conducts self defence courses for women in Nagar Road area.
Girls do show an inclination towards Karate and other such courses when they are in school but as they reach college, the willingness to learn such sport dips. In fact, that is the time when such skills may be required to be used,” says Swati Mane, who is teaching girls from Hadapsar area in self defence. Mane also teaches these techniques to working women and housewives. “We reserve two periods in a week for self defence classes and ensure that all our girl students are taught these techniques,” says a headmaster of the school who did not want to be named.
Dr. Madhavi Kulkarni, Vice Principal of SNDT Women’s College says that the college conducts compulsory courses in self defence. “Once a year, we conduct short courses for a month in which girls are trained in self defense. Our ex- students are coaches for these courses and the cost is borne by the college itself. Our aim is to empower our students to deal with any kind of untoward situation,” says Dr. Kulkarni.
Marathe now plans to approach IT companies and offer training courses for women employees in self defence. Most of the coaches also pointed out that girls who are trained in self defence are hesitant to utilise their training. It is not just the techniques you learn but also your will to fight back and resist the attacker is the key to survive in such situations, say coaches.