is determined to empower Bangladeshi girls to defend themselves
$903 will pay for:
180 girls living in slums in Dhaka to attend a 6-week self-defence and empowerment course so they can stand up to attackers and refuse abuse.
The United Nations has recognised a pandemic of violence against women and girls in Bangladesh, including high rates of forced child marriage and more than 40% of girls being raped for the first time between ages 10-14. Conditions are more severe for girls living in Dhaka’s slum communities. Jarin, from the Shattola slum community in Dhaka, is committed to changing these statistics.
Jarin used to suffer from extreme social anxiety and was often made fun of for not being able to speak up. But when she was 15 years old she heard of a self defence training course for girls run by Female Empowerment Movement (FEM). She decided to attend without letting her mum know, as she wasn’t sure that she would allow her to or whether her community would accept it.
She took a big risk, but it paid off in more ways than she could’ve hoped.
The course ran for 6 weeks and taught vulnerable girls from Dhaka slums how to defend themselves by training them in karate. The black belt trainers worked with the families of the girls first, to counsel them on the importance of self defence so they could back their daughters up. Throughout the course the girls gained increased self-confidence through learning behavioural and physical skills, and were mobilised to stand up to aggressive men and refuse abuse.
In the beginning Jarin usually covered up and did not speak much, but as the course went on, she began to speak more loudly and clearly. She realised that she did not cover herself up for religious reasons but rather in fear of men in her community. Her mother finally accepted her participation after seeing the positive impacts the course was having on Jarin.
At the time of training, Jarin was being bothered by a stalker who used to follow her around asking her to marry him. No matter how many times she refused he would keep pestering her. Jarin's confidence grew enormously over the course of the self-defence program and by the end she was finally able to stand up to her stalker and he has never bothered her since. She was even confident enough to refuse early marriage, insisting that she wanted to work.
Jarin was so blown away by the transformational effect that the classes had on her and her classmates that she was determined use her new skills to provide this opportunity to other young girls.