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Dhaka Tribune

Schoolgirls receive self-defence training in Rajshahi

Some major issues like on how to combat sexual harassment, attempt to rape, kidnap/highjack, unexpected attack and physical assault are the main focuses of the training

Update : 10 Oct 2020, 02:06 PM

Sanowara Khatun, a student of class 10 in Nasirabad Dulahar High School in Nachole upazila of Chapainawabganj district, says she has been able to boost her confidence level after receiving self-defence training.

“I have more confidence after receiving self-defence training. If any girl knows the art of self-defence she will be able to protect herself as well as others,” she said while talking to BSS Friday.

“You will have the courage you need and also be able to transfer it to others,” she added.

Some 640 girls took part in self-defence training to boost their confidence and self-determination in 32 village-level schools in Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Pabna and Sirajganj districts.

After receiving this training, girls like Sanowara are teaching the art of self-defence to the girls in their neighbourhood.

In this way, schoolgirls are building indomitable courage from an early stage, helping them raise their voices against violence and oppression.

The self-defence training for the adolescent schoolgirls are being provided under a project styled “Strengthened Civil Society Protects and Promotes Women’s Rights”.

Two development entities– “DASCOH Foundation” and “We Can”– have been implementing the 40-month project jointly since January in 2018, funded by European Union and NETZ Bangladesh, with the main thrust of promoting and protecting gender equality and women’s rights and preventing violence based on gender and other identities.

“I did not know how to protect myself from any danger before. But now I am fully trained to protect myself,” said Sumaiya Khatun, an eighth-grader of Baliadanga High School. 

Asmani Khatun, a ninth-grader of the same school, said: “I, along with my friends, have taken our own responsibility to protect ourselves.” 

Ity Kumari, another student of the same class of Moharajpur High School, said boys used to hurl abusive language at me but now nobody can harass me anymore.

Sohel Rana, a teacher of the school, said the trained students draw maps to identify the spots where incidents of harassment often take place and we take steps accordingly.

Recently, a student’s forum member made an example to stop the marriage of one of its under-aged friends using national hotline 109.

“We were able to stop the child marriage with the support of Upazila Nirbahi Officer,” said Usman Gani, a student of class 10 of the same school.

Champa Begum, a member of Akandabaria Civil Society, said the students are not afraid anymore after receiving the training.

They have learnt to speak and they have learnt to protest. Sompa Akter, Instructor of the self-defensive training, said: “We are preparing them so that they can protest any kind of violence and injustice. They are the future of Bangladesh.”

Some major issues like on how to combat sexual harassment, attempt to rape, kidnap/highjack, unexpected attack and physical assault are the main focuses of the training.

Upon successful completion of the project by April 30, 2021, the schoolgirls are expected to be more confident and disciplined, understand how predators attack, how to act for self-defence during any attack, how to deal and escape from such situations and how to avoid any risk.

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