640 schoolgirls receive self-defensive training in Rajshahi region

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By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, Oct 10, 2020 (BSS)- A new potential life of Sanowara Khatun has
been revealed after receiving self-defensive training.

Khatun, a student of class 10 in Nasirabad Dulahar High School in Nachole
upazila of Chapainawabganj district, has already enhanced her level of
confidence through the training.

“My confidence grew after receiving this training. If any girl knows the
technique of self-defense she will be able to protect herself as well as
others,” she said while talking to BSS here Friday.

“You will have courage in yourself and also be able to transfer it to
others,” she added.

Now she is confident and self-reliant. No more fear any more. She believes
in her inner power and it offers her light to move ahead.

“Currently, we can do as we have the power to stop all kinds of violence by
punching away our fear,” Khatun said.

After receiving this training, other girls like Sanowara are cascading the
self-defense technique to their neighbourhood sisters.

In this way, indomitable courage of school going girls is spreading at the
grassroots level and their voices are being raised against any kind of
violence and oppression.

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

The self-defensive training for the adolescent schoolgirls is being
conducted on behalf of 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 Bangladsh, 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 unwanted situation before.
But now I am fully trained to protect myself,” said Sumaiya Khatun, a student
of class eight of Baliadanga High School.

Asmani Khatun, another student of class nine 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 the boys used to talk abusive language but now nobody can harass me
anymore. Because, I just show them my punch and say look I have this.

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

A student’s forum member made an example to stop the child 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-defense during any attack, how to deal
and escape from such situations and how to avoid any risk.