THE NEED TO BE TOUGH
"Girls...your safety is not an option, it’s your right," says 18-year-old Vaamaa Baldota. Unlike other teens who are occupied with college, career, etc... she has a broader mission. She is keen on training young girls on self-defence. "You will be as safe as you choose to be. Because your safety does not have to depend on chance or luck, but on how alert and prepared you are - at any and every moment," she explains.
While informing further on what made her develop a two-hour programme to make girls aware on eve teasing and rape, she explains the news related rape and sexual assaults in our country left her with several questions.
It was after returning from UK to her hometown Hospet in Karnataka during her vacation she was left more disturbed hearing the news of her maid’s daughter being molested.
Vaamma embarked on a serious task of doing something more than just talking about the issue. She took up an intense 25 hours a week, four-week commando training course. After which she formed DARE (Defense Against Rape and Eve-teasing) with the help of five volunteers in Hospet and started approaching schools and colleges in her hometown to conduct the self-defense programme.
The programme designed to motivate girls to act smartly in difficult situation concerning her safety was formulated by talking with several experts including rape psychologist and lawyers.
"The DARE training programme does not make use of speed, power or strength as the means to fight the offender. We stress on verbal confrontation skills, avoidance, response. Survival and escape tactics and more importantly self-defence techniques,” she explains. The tactics and the guidelines provided in the programme are simple to follow.
Following are some tips given by Vaamaa for young girls
1. On being stared or whistled at give a stern run down look, don't ignore or over react.
2. Not to hurt the man's ego.
3. On being pulled instead of pulling back one should push in the pulling direction and on being pushed one should pull in the direction towards them.
4. Being aware of one's surroundings is the most important tool for safety.
5. On being eve-teased, molested or assaulted it is very important to speak up about it.
Vaamaa says she feels confident that schools and colleges can expect that their girls who undergo the programme will be equipped with knowledge and skills to deal with various forms of Eve teasing, will be able to protect themselves from rape and during rape.
“It is important that the girls understand psychological traits of eve teasers and rapists. But the most vital aspect is that the need of communication between the girl and her parents,” stresses Vaams. “We encourage them to speak up and try to make will be aware of the laws in India related to rape and Eve teasing,” she says.
Vaamaa feels the need for each girl to be physically and mentally fit and hence she says, “the techniques in this session are specially designed for girls and are not based on strength or power but on speed and leverage.”
The group has conducted the programme in Karnataka, cities including Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and will move next to Delhi. Vaamaa will be getting back to her studies. So to make the programme sustainable, she has trained many volunteers in different parts of the country to carry on the workshops.