On April 7, students from the Vile Parle East Municipal School took part in a session where they learned self-defense techniques. Come April 11, and another 300 girl students from the city’s Kawalemath Banganga Municipal School will be trained first-hand by Debi Steven.
A self-defense demonstration
She founded the UK-based NGO Action Breaks Silence last year to teach free personal safety and self-defense to girls from disadvantaged communities.
While growing up, 11-year-old Steven was attacked brutally in South Africa and decided to teach herself self-defense techniques. She trained in Shotokan karate for nearly 25 years, as well.
Debi Steven (centre) at a workshop for girls in India
Steven has so far conducted her workshops in South Africa, UK, Canada and the US. The city workshops are being organised in association with the NGO Vidya that works for the empowerment of the underprivileged. The sessions are designed to equip girls to protect themselves in their daily lives.
The training is imparted by a team of men and women from the UK, assisted by trainee self-defense instructors from CSK Kalari, Marari Beach Resort, Kerala and the Red Brigade from Lucknow.
Speaking about the initiative, Steven says, “We teach girls and women only. So far, we have taught over 5,000 women in India and we teach the techniques for free. We train slum-dwelling women in our workshops and to make this sustainable, we are also training local instructors. We teach everybody; they may not be able to afford it but are in need if it,” she elaborates.
Steven emphasises that self-defense is not martial arts. “Martial arts is a sport and self-defense is a life skill. We teach women that they are born with a self-defense system and they only need a strong mind and confidence,” she explains.
The workshops are aimed at teenage girls who are concerned about their welfare and aims to provide them with practical solutions to address these fears.
The schools selected for the workshops in the city are part of the NGO’s programme, Bhavishya-yaan, in partnership with Rotary Club of Bombay. The NGO Vidya imparts spoken English, computer skills and life skills educations to students from standards 6 to 9.
On: April 11, 9.30 am to 1.30 pm
At: Kawalemath Banganga Municipal School, Doongersey Road, Walkeshwar.