Recently a 27 year old woman saved herself from an Uber cab driver who abused and threatened to rape her. What had helped her at this time of need was the self defence class she had taken 15 years ago in her school. There you have it. We do everything to protect our girls from molesters, eve-teasers and potential rapists. We watch where she is going. We scrutinize her clothes. We make sure she is modest all the time. We ensure she is home before time. We would put her in a cage if we could. These are our best efforts to ‘protect’ the women in our lives. All the while constantly reassuring the men in our lives that, “boys will be boys”.
Time and again we have been proved wrong. Time, clothes, place, age or anything else for that matter, fails to prevent violence and harassment. Instead of doing all the things mentioned above in order to protect girls, it is high time we taught our boys to be gentlemen and treat women with respect and our girls to be strong and be able to protect themselves.
It is important that every child irrespective of gender be able to protect oneself. For that self defence should be made mandatory in schools. While ensuring that their child excels in academics, parents should make sure that their child will be able to protect himself/herself when the need be. While we wait out for a huge cultural shift, there is no harm in equipping oneself with the necessary skills to give ourselves a chance to fight. It is always great to be trained in any one or mixed martial art. I hope you never have to use it, but there is no harm in learning. You could even flaunt your talent occasionally.
There are several camps organised in and around our cities time and again to help you attain the mental and physical strength you need in a time of panic. I have taken self defence training and the first lesson I was taught was to learn to take a hit. Even if you wouldn’t be able to beat an attacker with your strength, such a training will give you an insight on where and how to use your strengths. “Instant freezing” is the common response of individuals during a traumatic incident. Self defence training will help you draw yourself out of panic and act in your defence.
Choosing a self defence program
But do take special care while choosing a self defence class or instructor. Some may perpetuate rape myths. An instructor who asks you to dress modestly and call the attacker “bhaiyya” is your cue to leave the room. We want to keep a safe distance from these first. You want to look for a self defence program that reflects the following ideology:
- Nobody has a right to your body other than you
- A woman do not ask, invite or deserve to be assaulted
- The program should help you prepare mentally, physically and emotionally
- It should prepare you to analyse the situation properly and make the right decision, even it the right decision is to attack back the perpetrator, shout for help or run away from it.
- It should increase your options and preparedness.
Each of us irrespective of gender has a responsibility to oneself, to protect us. And each of has the strength to do the same. We only have to believe in that strength. No clothes, time or place will ever be able to protect you. Only your determination to protect yourself at any cost will. So enroll yourself in a good self defence training program in your neighbourhood asap.
Refuse to be a victim. Put up a fight. Be an opponent instead. Be strong and stay safe.