Palak a journalism graduate believes in simplifying the complicated and writing about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She calls herself a " hodophile" or in layman words- a person who loves to travel.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that about 1 in 3 (35 per cent) of women, globally, have either experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lives.
In India, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has revealed that on an average 1,111 cases of crime against women were recorded per day in 2019. A startling cumulative of over four lakh cases in the year.
Additionally, reports have also revealed that the instances of domestic violence have witnessed a massive surge during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In an attempt to change the scenario; empower and strengthen women, 40-year-old karate champion, Aparna Rajawat, started the 'Pink Belt Mission'. She founded the Agra-based non-governmental organisation in 2016 and has a team of 2,000 trainers who have helped over 1.5 lakh women across 12 states.
Rajawat's team, with its mission, has been providing the tools, techniques and knowledge of martial arts to girls and young women that would help them fight violence and become self-sufficient.
Describing her childhood and how it played a crucial role, Rajawat said, " I was among those who never accepted bullying, While boys in school did not giver me a hard time, they did so with other girls and I stood up for them. What frustrated me was that the girls never spoke up for themselves. I never understood why and it remained with me for a long time."
She said that she stumbled upon a martial arts class in her neighbourhood and was surprised not to find a single female participant. Rajawat, however, was fascinated by the sport and soon developed a passion for it.
"When I saw that boys were gaining strength at the martial arts class, I approached my mother. After assessing my passion, my mother agreed," she said, reported The Indian Express.
With time, Rajawat invested her attention and focus on rigorous training and earned her black belt along with several other titles. Her newly acquired confidence helped her fight the resistance she faced in her personal lives as well and made her understand the importance of physical strength that formed the core of mental stability.
The sportswoman went on to win 13 national-level titles in karate including Shito Ryu, Oiki-Ryu and kickboxing. She also became the National Open Challenge Champion in karate twice and also bagged a silver medal in South Asian Karate Championship.
Later, Rajawat met with an accident and had to let go of her dream of competing for the Asian Karate Championship. This was also when she decided to pull her attention from martial arts and focus on academics with which she eventually became a tour manager for international trips.
The 2012-Nirbhaya gang-rape case that shook the nation and called attention to the untamed rising crime against women in India motivated Rajawat to transform her passion into a movement, to connect thousands of women to her empowerment mission.
"I had become entrepreneurial, but the 2012 incident shook me to the core and I took hold of myself. I researched crimes against women in an obsessive manner, studied the law and statistics. I reminded myself that I am trained in martial arts and can teach self-defence. I had also acquired public speaking skills due to tour-managing," Rajawat said.
It took a few years for Rajawat to leave behind the cushion of a comfortable life and to come up with the Pink Belt Mission. Contrary to the ideas, the social entrepreneur combined the colour 'pink' representing women with 'belt' that symbolised power in martial arts.
Rajawat's team started gaining momentum and trained women on five dimensions of strength including mental, emotional, legal, digital and physical. A 360-degree empowerment project that would also upskill the pink members.
The Pink Belt Mission, in February, successfully set a Guinness World Record for organising the largest self-defence training class with 7,401 girls in Agra.
Every Marathon starts from small step #womenpower, #womenempowerment, #womensupportingwomen, #womenempoweringwomen, #womeninspiringwomen, #women,#girlsgirlsgirls, #girlswithink, #girlspower, #womeninleadership, #nonprofit, #nonprofitorganization, #socialworker, #womenwhoins… pic.twitter.com/Yax4iGlJGb— PinkBeltMission (@pinkbeltmission) October 6, 2020
"My goal is to teach self-defence to two million women. Besides that, we are working on hostels for victims of domestic violence and a designated support system, which will include professionals like doctors, lawyers, activists and counsellors," the karate champion said.
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