Nepal Police Teaching Women Self Defense Classes To Protect Against Sexual Assault

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The April 25 and May 12 earthquakes in Nepal not only devastated the country and its inhabitants, but sent tremors around the world to the impact of these natural disasters. To date more than 8700 people reportedly died, and the total rebuilding cost could be as high as $7 billion.

The statistics and sheer magnitude of the what it will take to help the country recover is going to take ongoing efforts. And while the media hubbub may have died down, the need for relief has only increased.

One of the aspects about this disaster which hasn’t necessarily been making news headlines (but needs to) is that there are reports of women and children being sexually assaulted in the temporary camps set up where the homeless now live.

Nepal has a high level of child marriage with 1 in 10 girls married by the age of 15, and 4 in 10 before their 18th birthday, according to U.N. data. Since the earthquake these numbers have increased which is becoming a growing concern for authorities. Added to this are reports of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking on the rise within the camps.

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In response to this news, police have started giving women and children self defense classes as they are the most vulnerable to attacks among the thousands of displaced people.

“While visiting different camps in Kathmandu, we realized the need for such training so that women can protect themselves. Women and children are more vulnerable to sexual violence in this situation. The culprits are looking to take benefits of the situation,” said Tara Thapa, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) of Metropolitan Police Office at Ranipokhari.

“We are teaching them several techniques, including how to kick and punch, as well as various locks. There are some lessons of judo and karate, too. Even a weak woman can fight against a strong man. This will help them to save themselves.”

Reports from activist groups say the attacks are worse in areas where there is a lower presence of police.

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Sapana Pradhan Malla, women rights activist and lawyer, said it is a well-known fact that women and children are especially vulnerable in disaster situations.

The government must launch awareness programs and provide better security in open shelters. Law enforcement agencies should also make extra effort to curb the cases of sexual abuses and trafficking of young girls and women,” she said.

The police expect the violence to increase and the number of criminal and trafficking gangs to continue to target the weak and vulnerable. So they want to help equip women and children with the skills to be able to defend themselves.

Part of the increased vulnerability for children comes from the fact that schools are still closed. UNICEF report some in Kathmandu are starting to open, however it is still estimated that there are 1 million children at risk from attacks in the shelters.

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The Guardian reports many relief efforts coming from other countries are being held up by bureaucratic barriers and red tape they need to break through before getting the aid to where it is needed the most, which has become a growing frustration amongst aid agencies.

Despite the dire situation, it is encouraging to see the Police are making an effort to defend the lives of women and children. Aside from the big ticket issues the mainstream media likes to make us aware of, it is important we remember that violence against women in conflict and disaster zones are not isolated incidents, they have been a commonly used tactic throughout history.

The more awareness we raise, and the more authorities and relief organizations work hard to end these crimes the less power the criminals and perpetrators have.

We hope the women and children throughout Nepal will get the right help they need and be empowered to protect themselves against attackers.

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6 Comments

  1. Self-defense is a really important skill and can save your life when the night comes. Thanks for the article, keep up the awesome blog!

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