When Shivani Sisodia, an 18-year-old from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur was eve-teased by a group of boys two years ago, the incident not only left her traumatised but also made her realise the importance of self-defence to fight harassers and molesters. Ever since, she has taught at least 1,500 women and girls the art of self-defence.
When Sisodia was in Class 10, she and her friends encountered a group of young boys, who passed lewd remarks and harassed them. Screaming out loud to scare away the boys, the incident made the girls feel helpless for being unable to defend themselves.
Soon after, she enrolled herself at the Rajasthan Karatians School and learnt the ropes of self-defence in no time, under the guidance of her trainer and school director Onkar Pancholi. He is also a certified NIS martial art trainer and a black belt holder.
“Our school teaches girls self-defence techniques. But Shivani’s skills surpass those of most teenagers of her age. She is also a national level judo player who won a silver medal two years ago at a national tournament in Punjab. She has a special technique when it comes to teaching self-defence, plus she gets deeply involved with her students,” adds Pancholi.
Sisodia currently trains a group of 100 girls at Rajasthan Karatians school.
“I should be a strong person to defend myself in any situation. I am blessed to have a wonderful trainer who has taught me basic survival skills and self-defence techniques,” she adds.
Pancholi and Sisodia even run self-defence campaigns in the city to inspire other women to take charge of their safety.
Ensuring safety for women
It’s not just the streets — women are victims of eve-teasing even when they travel, especially in the Indian Railways. Recently, the Ministry of Railways issued a detailed set of guidelines to prevent crimes against women, both on trains and railway station premises. The guidelines included an action plan, preventive measures, sensitisation, surveillance over the identified vulnerable area, notice for passengers and special measures.
As per the ministry, 20 percent of the 2.3 crore people who travel daily by Indian railways are women passengers. Thus, it is a “major concern” for them to put an end to heinous crimes against women.
“In the recent past, the incidents of crime against women in trains and railway premises has been a major area of concern. Therefore, the following steps are part of a focused effort across Indian Railways to collectively strive for safety of women passengers and to mitigate atrocities against women in railways,” said an official statement issued by the Ministry of Railways.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)