Turning Fear Into Strength
On the 16th of October 2012, a 23-year-old Indian female physiotherapy student went to the movies with a male friend in Select Citywalk mall in Saket, Delhi. As they left the mall they went on a bus where each of them were beaten up by six men as the bus drove through Delhi. The details of this horrific night will be known to many as it made headlines around the world. Jyoti Singh, whose name was made public by her mother three years after the attack, was viciously gang raped and tortured that night, dying two weeks later in hospital. Her attackers showed little remorse and one of them stated:
A decent girl won't roam around at nine o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boys and girls are not equal.
The rate of crimes against women in India is of major concern, particularly as a significantly high degree of them are never reported. By a survey of Delhi government's Women and Child Development Department, around 80% of women in the nation's capital have fear regarding their safety.
This feeling was echoed to me by the young women and mothers that I met during my time in Delhi on a World Vision Ambassador trip in October 2015. Despite voicing their ever present concern for their personal safety and security I saw incredible strength and resourcefulness in their approach to mitigating that fear.
"This above all, I refuse to be a victim. Unless I can do that I can do nothing." - Margaret Atwood
I was awe inspired when I met 20 young women who taught me their skills in self-defence. I took part in their training session, although I think I have a long way to go before I am as skilful as they have become!
Dressed in bright red tops that say 'safe city', I saw a practical and powerful way that girls in this community were dealing with the fear of being harassed that would often result in them not leaving their homes. This initiative began when World Vision organised a 15 day self-defence training with the Delhi Police for the young women in the community. As a consequence they have now found hope for their lives and have developed genuine trust with the police through the experience.
I was left with the feeling from these young women that they now believe they can be in control of how they choose to respond and act, even if they can't change the behaviour of others.