The world is shocked and horrified by the continuing news headlines in India detailing brutal rapes and sexual assaults against women of all ages. Indeed, surveys have shown that:
- A woman is subjected to Eve Teasing* every 5 minutes (*the public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men)
- A rape is reported in India every 21 minutes
- A woman is molested every 26 minutes
- A woman is kidnapped every 43 minutes
- A woman is killed in a dowry death every 103 minutes
- In 93% of rapes in India, the victim knows the offender
- Only 26% of rape cases that go to court end with a conviction.
Debi Steven, one of the world’s leading personal safety and self-defence instructors, has set up Action Breaks Silence, a not-for-profit company, to start fighting back.
Founded in 2013, Action Breaks Silence works primarily with underprivileged girls and women to teach them awareness and practical skills to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of crime. Physical self-defence skills are taught in realistic scenarios, providing the women and girls with both useful techniques and a sense of empowerment.
A team of men and women from Action Breaks Silence travelled to India in July 2013 conducting workshops over a month during which time they trained over 1,000 women and teenage girls. This included teaching the members of The Red Brigade, a vigilance group formed by founder Usha Vishwakarma and comprising survivors of sexual violence and rape. The Red Brigade patrols the streets and markets of the state of Uttar Pradesh to identify men who are harassing women and, if necessary, intervene. Debi Steven was appointed sole international instructor status to the group by Usha Vishwakarma in 2013.
Action Breaks Silence will be returning to Kerala in January and Delhi and Lucknow in April in order to continue to conduct workshops and train new instructors, with the ultimate aim of providing employment to local affiliated instructors who can continue Debi Steven’s teaching when she is unable to be in India. The personal safety and self-defence workshops are provided free of charge and are open to any women and teenage girls concerned about their welfare or safety.
Debi Steven commented,
“Violence against women and girls in India – in all its shapes and forms – has become so acute and so prevalent that it has effectively become a gender or sexual-based war. It wasn’t until the horrendous gang-rape and murder on a bus in Delhi in December last year, however, that the situation was brought to the world’s attention.
I couldn’t stand idly by. By offering my workshops, free, I hope to give life-changing options to underprivileged women and girls and provide help and hope wherever we are asked to teach.”
Action Breaks Silence is currently raising funds for its next trip to India. Please visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/action-breaks-silence to see the appeal video, including interviews of members of The Red Brigade.