A group of teenage girls, many of whom are subjected to domestic violence, were given a day-long training on self-defence.
The girls get beaten up by their family members, sometimes brothers, uncles or even fathers and are too meek to protest or resist, said those working to uplift them.
The NGO, Tomorrow’s Foundation, a wing of which works in the Brace Bridge- Taratala area, organised the training for 60 of the girls earlier this week.
The idea of self-defence is to teach them to be confident and to be able to resist, to voice out, scream and shout and at least make an attempt to save themselves rather than silently bear the brunt, said the spokesperson of the NGO.
The girls come from underprivileged families, who live in the shanties. For many encountering domestic violence at home is an everyday affair.
“Before marriage they get beaten at their maternal home and after marriage it is at their in-laws,” said an NGO worker.
They were taught the basics of self-defence like how to sit or stand and cover themselves so that they do not get hurt and how to run away from the place instead of getting beaten up.
Recently, a 17-year-old girl was beaten up by her brother for close to one-and-a-half-hour in the middle of the night.
Another 21 year old woman with two children was beaten up at her in-laws’ place frequently.
“Some of them get beaten up at odd hours when no one can come and rescue them. In such a situation, they at least have to know how to stand up and resist and protect themselves,” said Sharmistha Chakraborty, the area in charge of the NGO.
“We do not encourage them to resort to violence at home but we have to train them to at least resist and the confidence to protect themselves. As it is, most of them are too malnourished and do not have enough physical strength,” she said.
It has given some of the girls confidence to speak up for themselves.
For some of them, their parents wanted to get them married by the time they reached Class X, telling them that they have studied enough.
“Some of the girls had the confidence to tell them that if they tried to get them married they would report them to the police,” said Chakraborty.
The NGO also conducts self-defence classes for the girls once a week.
But most of them are too tied up to attend these sessions.
“The one-day training at least equips them with some basic skills. Simultaneously, we want to ignite their interest in self-defence so that more girls want to join the weekly course,” said Chakraborty.
For some of the girls the regular self-defence training has given them the confidence to walk alone on any deserted stretches of roads and has given them the courage to turn back and tell a boy, who had been following them: “Why are you following me?"
Something that most of these girls could not think of doing a year back. The only option for them was to stay indoors.