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Schoolgirls in Purulia get self-defence training to fight eve-teasers

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Purulia, Oct 31: Sixteen-year-old Seema Mahato, a Class 10 student of Jargo High School in a remote village of West Bengal's Purulia district, is “now not afraid” of going out alone even at night as the self-defence training provided to her has boosted her confidence level.

She now has acquired know-how to counter eve-teasers. Seema is among many students of the school in Jargo village, who have been imparted such training at their institutions to build confidence among them. "Our martial arts teacher at school has taught us how to defend ourselves if any of us is attacked by a person.

Schoolgirls in Purulia get self-defence training to fight eve-teasers

I can even break a brick with a kick as I have learnt taekwondo. "Earlier my parents were reluctant to allow me to venture out alone after dusk. Now, their mindset has changed. I am now not afraid of going out alone as I know taekwondo and can defend myself if one attacks me.

Visits to houses of relatives and friends alone are not an issue," Mahato told PTI. Echoing her, Shakuntala Mahato, a Class 11 student of the same school, said that the martial arts training provided to students at their institution has helped them allay fears. "Earlier, my parents or a family member would always accompany me if I went out in the evening.

But now after the self-defence training, I can go for my private tuition or friends’ houses alone," Shakuntala told PTI after demonstrating various taekwondo moves along with her friends when a Unicef team visited the school.

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Not only Seema and Shakuntala but also their friends Karbi and Surabhi Mahato along with many other girl students of the Bengali-medium co-educational school have been enjoying their self-defence training programmes and sports in their institutions.

"We always look forward to our self-defence and sports classes as we enjoy both," one of the students said. As part of the self-defence training, girl students are being taught martial arts - Karate and Taekwondo - in their schools.

Jargo High School in Jhalda-1 block is among many educational institutions in the district, around 300 km from Kolkata, where such self-defence training programmes are being funded by Unicef through the local administration to build self-confidence among girl students.

Such initiatives have “increased the confidence among these girls, who admit that their parents feel more assured about their safety during their movements", Unicef West Bengal Chief Mohammad Mohiuddin said.

Girl students between Class 8 and 12 are being imparted the self-defence training but most trainees are from Standard 9 and 10, he said. Balarampur Lalimoti Girls' High School, Jhalda Girls' High School, Barbenda High School, and Charra High School in Purulia district have been organising such training programmes for their students since 2019.

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As part of the programme, the students of Jargo High School are being taught how to counter if a person or two-three men suddenly attack a teenage girl from behind or with a stick.

Girl students of the institution are not only being imparted training in self-defence but also trained in various sports such as football, Kho Kho, and handball to increase their confidence level, said Sukumar Mahato, a teacher at the school. “Tribal girls in our school are very good at sports. Many of them have also been engaged as civic volunteers,” Mahato said.

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