Manisha Shrestha had fled from her house in search of a safe place as the Great Earthquake struck the country on April 25. Despite living out in the open space, she was afraid as she was living with a lot of strangers around her.
However after attending a one-day class on self defence, Shrestha’s fear has been replaced with a new bubble of confidence. “I was worried sick I would fall prey to a stranger’s sexual yearning and had no idea how I would cope should such a dreadful incident happen in real,” she said.
“The class on self defence that taught us to fight back instead of flee from sexual harassment was just the thing I was looking for. It has made me confident that I can indeed fight back should I encounter a similar incident.”
Around 50 women had gathered at Narayanchaur in Naxal on Saturday to attend the class which was jointly organised by the Women for Human Rights, Single Women Group (WHR), Paritran Risk Management Company (PRM) and the WE United Project to provide women who are vulnerable to sexual abuse during disaster with skills to protect themselves.
“Today was our first class and we are happy with the participants’ response. We also plan to conduct similar classes in the remote quake-affected areas,” said Uma Thapa, media coordinator at the WHR.
The participants were 50 women who have been living in tents for the past one month. The participants aged between seven to 35 years were taught skills to counter sexual harassment, physical abuse and ways to escape from perpetrators.
Vikrant Raj Pandey, PRM director, who has trained visually impaired women and women working in dance bars to defend themselves from sexual violence, said the six-hour class is focused on providing women easy self-defence tips.
“There have been a lot of news about sexual violence after the earthquake and we wanted to train young women how to defend themselves and make a safe escape should they physically abuse them,” Pandey said.
Another participant, Bijaya Dahal, 24, of Gyaneshwor, said she was eager to spread the self defence knowledge to other young girls.
“The self defence call which was all about not showing fear and using quick reflex and also strength to fend off the offender was really practical and I am eager to share it with my friends and other female relatives as it will help them feel safe in such uncertain times,” she said.