Women say it’s the need of the hour; professors say it’s not part of the syllabus.
Students in educational institutions want self-defence classes to be conducted regularly, but universities and colleges are yet to act on the directive of the Ministry of Education. A recent survey by the Ministry of Education showed that half the universities and 46 percent of colleges in the country do not hold self-defence classes for women.
Farheen, a 19-year-old B.A student from a government college said that not once has she seen self defence classes being conducted in her college. “I often encounter cases of inappropriate behaviour by drunk men in buses and I feel helpless at that time. All I can do is adjust. If I would’ve known self defence, maybe things would have been different.”
Dr. Veena, a professor from the same college said that the college doesn’t conduct regular classes because it is not part of the syllabus. “We conduct such classes only during National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS) camps,” she added.
A 2018 report by National Crime Records Bureau showed that out of the 493 rape victims in the state, 74 percent belonged to the age group of 18 to 30 years.
Farheen also said, that many colleges in Bangalore had dress code for women. “Instead of encouraging us these kind of practices discourage us. They don’t even let us sit with male friends in the campus. I don’t really expect any women oriented courses coming our way any time soon with such mindset.”
Prof. R. Indira, a sociologist, feminist thinker and activist said that students often do not take optional subjects seriously since they are not graded for them.“Therefore, even if colleges add such subjects, they will have to either make compulsory or encourage women to join the course. But making it mandatory with the regular subjects is a long shot, so women should be encouraged by parents to take the course if its there in universities.”
Nithyashree, an 18-year-old NCC cadet emphasised on the importance of self defence for young women. She said young women feel confident when they know how to defend themselves. “I am in NCC so we are given a chance to attend self defence camps but it’s a one time thing. Therefore, colleges and schools should conduct such classes regularly.” But she said, it should be left to the women if they want to join such courses because not all parents permit their daughters to join them.
Dr. Sujata, a sociology professor and incharge of the Nirbhaya cell in a government college said that her college conducted classes once a week with the assistance of Voice of Karnataka organisation. But she said currently the classes were on hold due to the busy schedule of the college.
Women who weren’t trained in self defence said that they didn’t want to pay for it. Jennie, a 20-year-old student, said that it would be better if universities and colleges conducted such classes. “If the college wants it can take some minimum fee with our admission fee but I think it’s about time they start conducting such classes for us.”
Vimala Janavadi, a women rights expert said that such classes were not conducted because the professors didn’t think the subject was that important as compared to other academic subjects. “As there is no exam for it, therefore universities and colleges do not conduct classes regularly. Proper time allotment should be done for such subjects. As far as self defence classes are concerned, it shouldn’t be done just done physically but mentally as well. They need to be made strong mentally also. And not just women, men should also be taught how to behave appropriately.”