Many women turn to self-defence classes

The Delhi gang rape incident and the agitation following it has resulted in a defensive reaction from women across the country. Many women in the city have turned to self-defence classes and are carrying pepper spray or knives for their safety.

“Not a day goes by when a man does not whistle, makes a perverse remark or tries to touch when we walk on the road,” says Sahana Kulur, an architect in the city.

She says that, earlier, she used to be scared of mere street dogs. “But now they look like angels when compared to some men on the street,” she adds.

Ms. Kulur now carries a pocket knife and talks on the phone every time she is out on the street. “Just so that somebody is aware of my situation if something goes wrong,” she says.

A measure of the panic among women of all ages can be had from the fact that a major retail chain has run out of pepper sprays.

“The sales of pepper sprays increased drastically in the past month and now there is no stock left. It is difficult to get stocks,” said Robert, a sales representative of one Health and Glow outlet. “It may take us a week or even a fortnight to get fresh stocks,” he said.

“We can find self-defence classes on every street in every area but not a pepper spray bottle,” says Namitha Gopal, a student of Manipal University.

Franklin Joseph’s Power to Women programme, in which women are trained in self-defence, appears to have generated interest as a fallout of the Delhi outrage. “I have received calls from at least 20 companies in the last one month,” says Mr. Joseph.

“Knowing how to throw a couple of punches and kicks does not solve the problem,” says Mr. Joseph. His programme also focusses on teaching women how to prevent, avoid and escape difficult situations.

Mr. Joseph plans to dramatise the Delhi rape to illustrate the ways in which one can try and escape from a similar situation. “The dramatisation will happen inside a real bus,” he says.

In the last month, Sharma’s Institute of Fine Arts, which conducts Karate and self-defence classes in three branches across the city, has seen 11 women signing up. “Most of the students are girls in the 16-20 age gropu,” says Sanjay Sharma, the institute’s manager.

NGOs too have taken a step forward in providing self-defence classes for women. “Aware”, an NGO headed by Jayanagar MLA B.N. Vijaya Kumar, is planning to conduct self-defence class for women in the area.

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