Numerous visually challenged women in rural India are now finding the real strength in themselves, thanks to a charity organization. The charity group Sightsavers is giving judo training to equip them for self-defense in case of assaults. And now, the initiative is winning praise after the women trained under it entered the national judo championships and went back home decorated with medals.
Sightsavers, an international charity organization, has been working with visually challenged women for years, training them for a better chance in life. They hold judo classes in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Incidentally, the state records the highest number of rape cases in the country. The organization also helped the women, who are often marginalized by their communities because of their condition.
A group of 60 women is being trained in judo by Sightsavers, among whom seven participated in the National Blind and Deaf Judo Championships in India's capital, New Delhi. Now, some of them are national medal winners and judo instructors.
"Education has given me wisdom, but self-defense has given me the confidence to showcase my strength," 20-year-old Nikki Lodhi, a silver medal winner in the 2016 judo championships, told Sightsavers website.
Visually challenged women are said to be the most vulnerable to sexual assaults and abuse, with many of them even too scared to go out of the house alone. Sightsavers hopes that through their initiatives, these women would be able to get employed and become self-dependent.
Many women, who got training under the organization are now coaching other visually impaired women in their locality to protect themselves in emergencies. Sightsavers Program Manager Jayashree Kumar started the judo training courses as she believed "abuse affects blind and visually impaired girls disproportionately."
"Sightsavers' India team could never have predicted the remarkable impact that judo would have on the lives of the women who took part in the program," said Natasha Kennedy, head of the campaign at Sightsavers.
The charity is now working towards getting more women with disabilities on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which ensures the rights and freedom of differently abled people. As of now, only one out of 18 members of its monitoring panel is a woman. The campaign, headed by Kennedy, is named Put Us in the Picture.