Following the death of a 23-year-old woman who was brutally raped and tortured in India and later died of her injuries, a martial arts trainer gave self-defense lessons to young women in New Delhi on Tuesday January 1.
1994 Asian Games bronze winning judoka Poonam Chopra organized the session. She said with the government failing in its duty to protect women, initiatives like hers would help reduce the risks that they face.
"Children should be trained in martial arts and self-defense at their schools, colleges and residential localities, because at the very least it gives them the confidence to escape unwanted sexual advances. Girls who play sports are given less trouble, because the offender is aware that they are stronger."
A female physiotherapy student, who has not been named, was raped and tortured on Dec. 16 by a group of men armed with a metal bar on a private bus in New Delhi, nicknamed India's 'rape capital'. She died from her injuries on Saturday (December 29) in a Singapore hospital.
The attack prompted street protests across India, international outrage and promises from the government of tougher punishments for offenders.
In the continuing wave of nationwide protests, residents of Ludhiana in north India marched with candles and posters, demanding strict action against the rapists.
"We are staging this vigil to show the world that Indians are not passive and can raise their voice over important issues. We want that the severest punishment be given to the rapists," said a pupil called Shikha.
The southern town of Vishakhapatnam saw demonstrators wearing gags and lighting candles in memory of the victim.
One demonstrator said children from an early age should be taught to respect women.
"[From] LKG (lower kindergarten) onwards, people have to tell [children] what is lady, how to respect lady. There used to be traditional values, but nowadays no one knows them, and there is no soft corner or positive corner for the ladies. So that is why we have all demanded that (children) be taught from school age onwards how to respect ladies," said Prabha, a demonstrator.
The attack revealed deep fissures in Indian society, where staunchly chauvinist views clash with a fast-modernizing urban culture in which women play a growing role in public life.
The case also cast a spotlight on an epidemic of violence against women in India, where a rape is reported on average every 20 minutes. Media coverage of such crimes has intensified in the wake of the outcry over the Delhi attack.
Five men and a teenager have been detained over the attack and police sources on Tuesday said charges would likely be filed on Wednesday or Thursday.
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