Burqa-clad girls take to martial arts for self-defense in Ahmedabad

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Ahmedabad, May 9 : Setting an example for conservative families to be confident about their daughters' abilities, a group of about 30 Muslim girls in Ahmedabad city have taken to martial arts and aerobic exercises to train themselves in self-defense and develop physical fitness.

Most of these girls come from conservative families that expect their girls to just get married and take care of their household. But these girls have chosen to redefine what they are capable of in daily life without compromising with their cultural identity.

Residing in Ahmedabad's largest Muslim ghetto at Juhapura, these girls about 20 years of age prefer being Burqa-clad while practicing Karate and Aerobics every afternoon for three hours. Besides, these girls pump iron barbells.

These girls want to be perfectionist and aspire to move ahead in life without compromising on their traditional values and upbringing.

Twenty-year- old Sajeeda Ansari says: "We feel comfortable doing workouts under our Burqa. I have learned so many things. It is not necessary that a girl can be considered modern only if she is clad in western outfits."

Asifa Bora, one of the group members and computer trainer by profession, says: "I am learning it (Karate) for two months to become capable for self-defense and gain fitness. After Godhra riots, we have seen the increasing number of rape and eve-teasing cases in every newspaper and news channels."

"Today, without leaving aside our traditional values, we are learning all this. Today women are leading in every section of the society and parents must boost their daughters to move ahead in life looking beyond the caste factor," she added.

These girls practice for three hours every day during afternoon.

The girls are being trained under Supriya Jatav, a 16-year-old Karate instructor, who has encouraged these girls to learn self-defense techniques.

Supriya belongs to a Hindu family and has won several national and international Karate championship trophies under her belt. She is currently preparing herself for the Commonwealth Karate championship to be held in Scotland.

Supriya is happy about the fact that she could motivate these Burqa-clad girls to learn the self-defense techniques without requiring them to compromise with their traditional values.

"Until and unless somebody takes the initiative we cannot prosper. It is a must for every woman to become self-reliant today unmindful of one' caste or community. If someone is feeling comfortable doing their work without losing their traditional values or belief, no one should have objection. We must come out of caste boundaries and participate in the global world," said Supriya Jatav, the physical fitness and karate instructor.

Habib Khan, the gym instructor, who has been working enthusiastically for the uplift of girls for two years, said: "We should do it with full sportsmanship. Incidents which tend to affect the society at large should not be affect us. We should give importance to the sports over and above the caste and other decisive factors." By Uday Ahavaryu

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