NEW DELHI: The much celebrated measure of self-defense training for women, being undertaken by Delhi Police for a long time, doesn’t seem to find many supporters among the group of people who are working for the same cause of encouraging women to fight back.

According to Delhi Police’s Special Unit for Women & Children (SPUWC), 17,669 women were trained by it last year in the skills of self-defense. But many analysts and women rights group members contend that these measures are not good enough in situations of real crises, and called them confidence building exercise at best. They say that these techniques do come handy in building strength, but may not be useful in case of serious crimes against women like gang-rapes, and other form of severe violence.

Well known woman activist, Ranjana Kumari says, “Self defense training is good for physical fitness and building confidence, but treating it as a form of defense means you are putting the onus on the woman for her safety and security. How can a girl or a woman defend herself if she is attacked by a gang of men? Moreover in the case of domestic violence, homes will become battlegrounds with people fighting with each other. Even in eve-teasing on public transport, one doesn’t know how powerful the other side is and the girl may suffer even more violence in response to hitting back at her attacker as a form of defense” according to a report in Asian Age.

Echoing the above opinion, another women rights activist and member- in-charge, Bapnu Ghar, All India Women’s Conference, Ms Raksha Shukla, argues, “Women undergo physical, mental, psychological, and economic violence on an everyday basis, yet are unable to raise their voice let alone raising their hands. It’s not in the nature of women to be physically violent. The Delhi Police should not treat such an exercise as training in ‘self-defense’ but should be taught in schools and colleges as a sport”.

Shailendra Singh, a member of Abhivyakti Foundation, too, voiced some doubts about the efficacy of the self-defense as a major deterrent in crime against women.

He said, “While the skill of self-defense might lend some boldness to the person to speak out, but the societal pressure may prevent her from protesting, especially within the family community, where most of the crimes against women take place”.

SPUWC claims to have trained 1,25,490 women from different strata of the society in the techniques of self-defense since 2002. This is one of the measures which Delhi Police had taken to embolden women to fight back in situation of distress. The training is conducted for a period of 15 days, for two hours every day. The daily drill includes learning Karate and taekwondo.

In spite of having trained a multitude of women, who are still enrolling for the program even more now as a result of recent surge in the crimes against women, the apprehensions voiced by activists seem legitimate, since one has to be incredibly optimistic to believe that 15 days training is enough to ward of f a stronger and heavier opponent, more so, if they are more than one.

Ranjana Kumari, advising Delhi Police to up their game, said that they should adopt a no nonsense policy against such crimes, and convey this message in a strong way to the boys.