Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

20 February 2013

Egypt: Women Take Up Self-Defense to Counter Harassment

"Shoft Taharosh" (I Saw Harassment) women's initiative continued for the second week in a row training girls and women on self-defense skills against all types of physical assaults.

The trainees confirmed that self-defense is the only means available to counter the physical attacks they are subject to in public places. They pointed to the absence of security and lack of genuine political will to confront the phenomenon of harassment and physical violence.

One of the women who joined the training program, Eman Ahmad, 27, is very enthusiastic about the initiative.

She explained that even the police officers verbally harass girls instead of protecting them.

She added that the training boosted her self-confidence and helped her identify the areas of weakness in the body, so that she can paralyze her attacker.

Fatima Sharif believes that these trainings are useful for girls and women in general. It enables them to face any physical attack, pointing out that self-defense is a legitimate right guaranteed by law in the case of any assault.

She said that most of women and girls go to work and schools on a daily basis, emphasizing the importance of learning self-defense skills in the face of harassment, theft and other abuses.

Taekwondo trainer, Dina Abaza, confirmed that self-defense basically depends on training the girls on self-confidence, learning how to conquer their fears when confronting an attack and some defensive movements.

She said that the idea of training for self-defense is not new and has been widespread for a while, adding that it has become important for girls in this particular time, especially after the increase of violence against women in the streets and public places.

"Shoft Taharosh" member, Fathy Farid, has said that the program aims to train 10, 000 women by the end of 2013, starting with Cairo then expanding to other governorates.

He added that most of the Martial Arts professionals involved in the program are volunteers, adding that Martial Arts training will not be included in the program, but skills that could be useful in individual or group assaults will be.

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