A karate class in progress during the camp in Dhanbad. Picture by Gautam Dey
Most of them were students while several were homemakers, hailing from different backgrounds and social status. But all agreed on one point — self-defence is the best defence.
No wonder, as many as 160 women and girls queued up to train in karate at a week-long free camp conducted by a Hindi daily this month. The training, which kicked off at the squash court in Dhanbad from January 13, continued till January 19. Classes were held from 3pm to 4pm by Sarita Kumari (21), member of Bushikan Karate Association, and another coach Asim Khusboo.
“In times like this when crimes against women are soaring with every passing day, it’s important that all know how to protect themselves. The brutal sexual assault on the physiotherapy intern in Delhi and her subsequent death has jolted the entire nation out of slumber and even parents are taking initiatives to send the girls to martial art classes,” said Sarita, who started learning karate at the age of 10.
She further pointed out that one could not expect police to be around everywhere. Similarly, family members cannot accompany the girls wherever they went. “But there are men ready to harass girls everywhere. Therefore it is very important that the girls know how to protect themselves — something that they have realised now. Women of all age groups are attending this camp and the participants include 35 married women besides school and college students,” Sarita said.
She was right.
Right from a 31-year-old homemaker of Hazaribagh to a 22-year-old BCom student, the participants got more than just a kick out of the karate lessons. They enjoyed the sense of freedom that came with it.
“I was always interested in martial arts, but never got a chance to learn it. I have come to parents’ home here and eagerly joined the training camp when I came to know about it,” said Rima Verma, who lives with her in-laws in Hazaribagh and runs a stitching training centre.
Rima added that they picked up basic tips like the weak areas of the body that one should target.
But the homemaker is determined to not keep all that she learns over the next few days to herself. She wants to share it with other women back in Hazaribagh. “I will impart the same training to around two dozen women, who come at my stitching training centre,” she said.
Priyanka Kumari, a BCom student of SSLNT Women’s College Dhanbad, added: “As the Delhi gang rape showed, women are not safe anywhere and it’s time for them to shed their gentle image and give a befitting reply to attackers.”