Self defence – the missing agenda – 02 June 2010

In a luxurious apartment where the so called elite are supposed to reside a single woman resident was being harassed by two male residents belonging to two different families. They were comrades in creating mischief and hatching plans to harass her with trivial issues pertaining to the building. They were of course moneyed but with less or little education and no character. They possessed very clearly anti social traits which were becoming visible by the day. The nuisance went on for several months till it peaked and exploded one day. She had no recourse but to seek the protection of the police to restrain them and punish them which she fortunately got. But all women are not so fortunate.

We can presume that the attitudes towards women have not changed too much favourably. She is still treated as an inferior person even though she may be superior in all ways to the some guys. If she is single, independent, intelligent, good looking, and superior as well then that becomes her bane. Then there are always some crooked flimsy reasons to bring her down to their level to equal it out by showing their muscles and brawns which is the only asset they possess. That is the only sphere that concerns me and that is where we need to make the dent. The superiority of men in muscle needs to be countered too effectively by women. Self defence, self protection and martial arts are the best ways to do and are becoming a necessity for the fairer sex. This is not just a physical art of self protection but begins with a change in mental attitude first- attitude towards one self and attitude towards the world. 

As women enter the job markets and get independent we all apprehend increase in crimes against them. I have mentioned it earlier as the thought is not new and policy makers are aware of it. The number of working women is growing and so is the number of single women. Women who are unmarried and therefore single by choice, women who are separated or deserted are single not by choice, and women who are widowed are also single by circumstance. The category should be large enough to warrant attention. Since some years the Human Rights Commission has been mentioning it and some states have taken lead in building awareness about the security issues about them. They requested the police to identify and make a list of such women in their cities and to provide them with a helpline or special telephone number with women police if they needed urgent help. Such socially aware groups also talked about creating public awareness about it and making the citizens sensitive to such issues and needs.

But we are not singling out single women as the only insecure target group. All women are vulnerable to assault and abuse. Even a significant percentage of housewives are not safe in their homes with being victims of violence, now known as domestic violence and victims of dowry. Since such a category has militated against it and ultimately attracted the attention of the public and the authorities, they have been safeguarded through legislations through which they can take recourse and get state help.

Besides the help from the state and police citizens themselves need to arise and empower themselves. We need to begin young. Not just women but tender girls are equally vulnerable to assault, abuse and exploitation. The idea of self defence needs to be inculcated in their minds of the young in simple ways at the primary levels and the inputs gradually increased as they grow up ending in martial arts training at school final level. This life saving thought and skill is as important as moral science or art and crafts or games and physical education or curriculum teaching. It should be taught not with the idea to instil fear in their minds about the ‘bad world’ but with a positive sense of being powerful and in control of their lives. Self defence skills instil a great sense of confidence, again not over confidence, in their capability to protect themselves against unknown evils round the corner.

Why have we neglected this aspect so far?

Published in The Hitavada – womens world – 02 June 2010

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