Eve-teasing, harassment and crimes against women have been continuously increasing in the National Capital. While returning from work one evening, Silvy Kalra overheard the conversation of some domestic workers in her locality about the harassment faced by them as well as their daughters and how it affects them on daily basis. This made her determined to do something for changing their circumstances. By conducting defense classes free of cost, she was able to provide them a coping strategy through which they would be able to take a stand for themselves.
Presently, working as a journalist and communications specialist, she is acquainted with the privileges that come to the educated lot. Her conviction to do something for the domestic workers and empower them made her start these classes. Speaking to The Logical Indian about her noble initiative, she says, “The first self defense class was conducted towards the end of 2018. It took a lot of time and planning to organize the next batch. But the enthusiasm of the participants made me conduct it successfully. With the help of my trainer, Anuj, I conducted the training program in January as well.”
Being more confident helps women to deal with such situations. But the marginalized and weaker sections are often neglected and the need of creating safe spaces for them has been overlooked by our society. Most of the domestic workers and their daughters who attended these training sessions have faced abuse or harassment in some form or the other. Talking with The Logical Indian about the response she received in her first batch, Silvy shares, “One of the participants named Rekha, a domestic worker in Paschim Vihar, Delhi was amazed after attending the first session. Initially, she was not eager about it. But as she turned confident, she wants to come again and practice it more often in the classes.”
She confirmed that their perspective changed after attending these classes and they want their daughters to learn this skill. Although it is difficult for them to take out time and come to classes after work, they still want to do it regularly. Many of them are even afraid to leave their daughters back home as they don’t stay in safe localities. Looking into the gravity of the situation, Silvy Kalra ventured with her free defense classes funded with her own savings. With hardly any volunteers coming up to work for this noble cause, she has managed to get a trainer for the classes.
“Anuj was the only trainer who agreed to help. The class wouldn’t have been possible without his help as he agreed to conduct a class free of cost on a Sunday. In total, 10 people attended this class. Along with domestic workers and their daughters, a few other youngsters also joined the class. He taught them basic tricks to fight back in those circumstances.” shares Silvy with The Logical Indian.
Although teaching self-defense with just few classes and sessions is not possible, she is looking forward to organizing it more often. Self defense requires physical fitness along with regular practice which might be difficult for them. Since this skill set takes time to build, it is important to provide these classes on a regular basis. But even with the shortage of funds, she is positively looking towards building a safe community of women where they could come together and practice self defense and use it when needed. Learning to be one’s own protector is imperative for women and it could go a long way for those coming from underprivileged sections as it would make them more independent.
Most of these female domestic workers facing harassment aren’t literate or financially stable enough to come forward and educate themselves about fighting back. But Silvy’s vision of empowering them has made her embark on a journey of training many similar women facing such ordeals on regular basis. Sharing her future plans about her initiative with The Logical Indian, she says, “I aim to work with the Ministry of Women and Child Development for this, but we have just begun with few sessions. If the ministry could help us for working on it, it will take the initiative to greater heights and we can help more girls and women feel safer”. The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Silvy Kalra for empowering the marginalized and deprived sections of women and working towards building safe spaces for them.