Have you ever felt frightened, worried, or agitated while walking on the streets? I have if we’re being honest with each other. Every look on people’s eyes, scanning through the dress that I have worn, and at times, winking to make me feel uncomfortable, scares me. It does make me feel unsafe no matter what I tell myself that I won’t be weak; I’ll just face these sexual predators like a strong woman. But it’s hard. I know for a fact that many women in Kerala to feel unsafe when they step out, and some unfortunate ones, within their own homes. It’s a scary world out there. We know it. You know it. The whole world knows it. But, that’s not going to stop us from achieving what we want to do. This self-defence initiative by Kerala’s Sadhairyam Munnottu programme saw the problem and decided to make a difference.
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When the State Government launched the Sadhairyam Munnottu programme (which literally translates to ‘Go Ahead Bravely’), an awareness programme for women empowerment, there was a ray of hope among women and other genders. The crux of the programme revolved around reclaiming public spaces that remain largely inaccessible for women and other genders. As part of the programme’s self-defence training, nearly 13 lakh women and girls have received training in Krav Maga, a military self-defence technique and fighting method developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces. That’s a huge achievement!
A few women officers are the trainers, with four master trainers from each district. The training usually takes place in schools, colleges, Kudumbashree units, offices, residents’ associations, and so on. You won’t believe, in 2019-2020, 18,055 people received the training in Thiruvananthapuram district alone.
The training focuses on self-defence without the use of an external element apart from your own bodies. Some of the techniques help people predict attacks from perpetrators, respond quickly to surprise attacks, develop strength and confidence, both physically and mentally, to attack a person etc. The training has proved to be a critical skill that women and other people should have to defend themselves against aggressors.
Krav Maga teaches its students to be more aware and in control. That’s why the Sadhairyam Munnottu programme to teach self-defence has been a success.