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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 08/09/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) MARY KOM may not be the quintessential poster girl of the new age Indian, but to me she is a star. Not for the Olympic medal she brought home, but for the sheer woman power she represents, quite literally.

The day I watched Mary clobber her Tunisian rival in the quarters and later even when she went down fighting against a bigger opponent in the semis, I said to myself, "Here is a woman that no lusting Indian male would ever think of messing with." It was an odd remark to make for a sporting hero, but Mary's feisty blows in a strange way assuaged my disgust at the growing instances of sexual crime against women in India and elsewhere.

A couple that we know recently shifted from a locality in Sharjah that they felt was getting increasingly dangerous for their ten year old daughter. Without going into details, they voiced their fears about letting their young one walk around the place unescorted. Their concern was not unfounded or exaggerated, given that women and girls are stalked and stared even in this place that is far more secure than India.

The apprehensions of parents with a daughter cannot be undermined or belittled - not even in the best of places in the world - for there are demons in every society regardless of laws and legislations. And in a legal system that is as slack as the one in India, where eve teasing and gang rapes have become alarmingly common and the punitive action against the perpetrators does not effectively deter offenders, the less the hue and cry on the issue, the better it is considered. Consequently, this pathetic state of affairs has prompted many parents to equip their little girls with defence tactics by enrolling them in martial art classes.

Learning martial arts was completely unheard of in our times. This was not because things were any more safer or we were any more daring or our parents were any less anxious, but because in those days women travelled less distances to schools and colleges, did not party late or go out with friends and didn't generally work in other cities or overseas. Back then, as soon as the girl completed her study and the maggot of worry chewed away at the parents' hearts, they found her a suitable groom and transferred her custody to a man.

It would be scandalous to even talk on such retrograde lines now but time has turned many corners since then. Women are now waging fierce gender wars and winning them. Girls have smashed male citadels and entered even the boxing rings. Yet, for all the gallant strides made, the reality remains that women are still targeted by evil predators on the prowl.

It is against this background, that I celebrate Mary Kom's victory. In an everyday scenario, she represents a feminine force that can deliver a mighty punch on the nose of the man who tries to act funny on the street or in the office cabin.

Having a few techniques under her karate or taekwondo belt can transform a woman who would ordinarily be bundled into a vehicle by a gang of miscreants into a self defense expert who downs them temporarily to find an escape. Practically, it can instill oodles of courage and confidence into our women who are raring to live life to the fullest.

So, wouldn't it be a great idea to have martial arts integrated into our school system in place of lame physical education sessions? Parents should seriously think of giving daughters self defence aid along with art, music, dance and swimming lessons. Our aim should not be to create million dollar babies to win boxing matches, but to empower our girls to lead a fearless life in a mean, heartless world. It's time we belted them up.


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