'Rape is not a woman issue, it's a man issue'

Women safety and security is a subject of hot debate in the City and elsewhere. It is also one of the major concerns of Debi Stevens, a London-based self-defence expert who has come to India to hold self-defence workshops, organised by Yes Bank.

One of the world’s leading self-defence instructors Debi provides women and girls practical solutions to address their fears about welfare and personal safety. Talking to Metrolife, she shared nuggests about her initiative.

 “I think it’s very important for women across India and Delhi to go to a good self-defence workshop. One should work on their self-defence skills wisely and feel empowered as a woman, because learning this will give them a lot more confidence to defend themselves. Parents should also encourage their daughters to go for such workshops. Also, not only in India but everywhere in the world, every single women I have spoken to is nervous. Delhi is the city the media has focused on, but every single city and women that I have met in India are equally scared and concerned about their safety. Kerala as an example is meant to be ,God’s own country, and even that place is violent and not safe for women. I don’t think Delhi alone is a dangerous city ”,  says the expert.

Talking about her initial days and how she got into self-defence, Debi says, “I was attacked brutally and raped, when I was just 11-years-old, inside a car. I felt scared back then and I did what people usually do – didn’t break the silence and didn’t tell anybody until I was much older. So, my mission behind learning self-defence techniques was, in reality, to look after myself because I was too scared that this would happen again. After that, obviously when I had acquired many years of experience and knowledge in self-defence and martial arts, I tried to help other women protect themselves.”

Dwelling on the gender issues in the Capital, Debi says that the December 16 gangrape has made women come out and report about crimes against them. “I do think that in Delhi now, women have become braver and have started to stand up and fight violence against them. Not just India but there are many other countries that have the problem of violence against women. South Africa is definitely one of them and so is the United States of America. But, in the current scenario, every single country has this problem,” she says.

Unable to get enough chance and time to explore Delhi because of her hectic schedules and workshops, Debi says she makes it up with trying out Indian cuisine. “I love Indian food and don’t find it much spicy because I grew up eating Durban curry which is very spicy. What I love the most is the very spicy Indian chicken curry. Besides that, I also like some vegetarian dishes like matar-paneer and Indian cheese.”

 And her advice to the girls of Delhi?  “Women should start trusting their intuition. If someone makes them feel uncomfortable, they need to just move away from that person. Passing judgments like she was raped because she was wearing wrong clothes or because she was talking to that boy is completely wrong. Rape is not a woman issue, it is a man issue and the men need to change their outlook towards woman in general,”   says Debi.

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