Board Of Education Requires Indian Schools To Teach Girls Self-Defense Through Martial Arts


In response to the growing attention on the gender violence problem throughout India, we are finally starting to see a wave of decisions from officials who are making good on the government’s promise to stop the epidemic of rapes, sexual assaults, harassment, acid attacks, honor killings and abuse.

There are a number of ways these problems need to tackled, but having legislative measures in place as well as policies that both protect women and allow them to defend themselves is a good start. The infrastructure for citizens to feel safe is a vital part of changing the climate fueled by violence and patriarchal mindsets.

In September, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked all the schools within their jurisdiction to teach young girls self-defense through a martial arts program.

“These strategies cultivate in individuals the ability to remain alert yet calm at all times. Therefore, self-defense training will assist girl students to become more aware of their surroundings and to not feel helpless in any situation,” said the CBSE in a statement.


Although there are an estimated 3000 rapes a year, officials believe the actual number is higher because many do not report their attacks due to the cultural shame often associated with an assault victim. India’s Home Minister, K.J. George, said in places such as Karnataka, the number of rape cases have seemed to double from 2009 to 2014.

In a statement to, Goda Ram, a teacher from South India, said the problem will be solved with a multi-faceted approach, not just a singular one.

“Of course, the CBSE directive does not go far enough. It will not ensure that rapes do not occur, but it is one step to begin with. Sensitizing boys is a larger issue, which is beyond the purview of this directive. That would be a wider, socio-cultural issue that will take time to show results,” he said.

While the new move is not technically mandatory, the program will teach girls martial arts for two weeks at the beginning and end of each term.

“Safety of children is of prime concern to all stakeholders. It is an unfortunate reality that in today’s world, the safety of our children is often at stake. Some recent incidents have accentuated the need to ensure safety of girls. This is an issue which requires immediate attention. Teaching girls to defend themselves is a useful means to empower them. In this regard, the board is of the opinion that inclusion of self-defense activities for girls is highly desirable,” said joint secretary D T Sudharsan Rao in a statement.


Self-defense has become a go-to tool for not just schools but other areas of society including the police force and even the transportation industry. The CBSE is adamant about one aspect of the program, that a sports class may not be substituted for the time allotted for the self-defense classes.

“Self-defense training will equip girl students with useful strategies to defend themselves from spontaneous or premeditated violence and abuse. These strategies not only involve physically tackling threats to safety but also the ability to identify and avoid potentially unsafe circumstances. It cultivates in individuals the ability to remain alert, yet calm at all times” he said.

The focus on schools is due to the increase in reports of sexual assaults of girls on schools grounds in cities like Delhi and Bangalore.

“Girls are usually targeted when they are alone. Nowadays, children often travel alone to school, classes and even stay alone at home for long hours,” said Dinesh Padaya, taekwondo coach, DAV Public School, New Panvel.


While the self-defense classes continue to be taught around the country, we hope it the cultural and social stigma around gender inequality will also start to change. In an interview with Leslee Udwin, the director of ‘India’s Daughter’ documentary focusing on the gang rape of a Delhi girl in 2012, she talked about the shocking reality of India’s deeply ingrained misogynistic and patriarchal culture at every level of society.

When she spoke to the poor, uneducated rapists as well as their highly educated lawyers, they were both of the mindset that the rape was the right thing to do because the young girl should not have been out with a male friend at night who wasn’t her father or husband. The victim, who died from her brutal injuries, was out seeing a film with her friend from medical college.

This is the real aspect of the violence epidemic that needs to change – the mindset that it is ok to treat a woman as less than equal simply for her gender, or the choices she makes. Until we see a generation of men and women raised up who will actively stand against the damaging patriarchal notions of power in India, self-defense classes will merely be a band-aid solution.

Nevertheless, we are happy to see small steps being made wherever possible.




  1. great, lets get laws that are balanced and not in favor of women

  2. I from kasrurba balika vidhyalaya my name shehnaaz Hussain ,waha ki girls kar ka ji rahi h u needur help plz

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