Seemapuri is a part of Delhi, where a lot of migrant families from Bangladesh have settled. The primary occupation of a lot of these people is garbage-picking. The place has rampant street harassment, sexual offences and often falls under the radar of the media.
When I first visited Seemapuri, I heard about these young girls, less than 10 years of age, who had been kidnapped from the streets near their house, and found near some garbage dump next morning. They had been physically and sexually assaulted by their kidnappers. It was one of my first exposures to the crude reality of gender-based violence as an individual and as an organization.
There are a lot of non-profits doing valuable work with that community, and we partnered with one of them, Hope Worldwide, to go back and meet them. We invited all the leaders of the mothers’ self-help groups, and anybody in general to participate in a self-defence workshop, taken by an extremely talented instructor, Arun Sharma of Academy of Combative Arts. We like their curriculum because it focuses on non-confrontational aspects of self-defence and trains you on alertness, postures and signs, before it trains you to combat in case of an assault.
The workshop was heavily and enthusiastically attended. It was held at a local maternity home, with about 50 women and girls, and was concluded with a small discussion on helpline and legal options in cases of an assault. The hospital doctor invited her daughter and she joined us midway through the session! We would like to find a way to work more intensely with that community on gender-based violence. It was heart-warming and truly inspiring to see the happiness and hope in their eyes.
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