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SELF-DEFENCE: Women must develop greater confidence, both mentally and physically
MY friend Dave Avran, blogger and social media activist, is an angry man. That makes two of us, and the rest of Malaysia, I imagine.
There is good reason for our anger -- the spate of crimes in which all but one are women -- over the last two months.
Dave decided to put to public good this "rage" in cyberspace. He started a Facebook campaign -- Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and SnatcH (Marah) and has collected, to date, 3,127 members on its page.
The campaign has received more than 1,300 petitioners. Dave hopes that by Dec 31, the campaign will be supported by 100,000 signatures. Read more about it in his blog, Spanking DA Monkey.
If you go on the Marah Facebook page, you will read first-hand from victims of crimes. They are all women. Some of the stories have already been reported in newspapers.
In his introduction of "Marah" in a posting in his blog, Dave said, thanks to social media, we see the faces, read the horrifying stories and feel the trauma that each of these people have gone through on Facebook and other digital media channels.
"Isn't it time we get our Malaysia back?" he asked.
It has been a long time since I have been this angry over incidents of crime. The last time I felt this angry, frustrated and despairing was reading about the abduction, rape and murder of 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin in 2007.
I am angry because I worry for my children's safety at home while I am at work. I pray that our home and my children will never be statistics of home intrusion and robbery because the "it can happen to you" has never rung so close.
Yes, I am angry because I eye suspiciously any stranger in my neighbourhood or the motorcyclists beside my car at traffic lights. This is not just being alert. This is paranoia.
Just consider that since May 28, 13 cases of snatch theft and robbery in which the victims (all but one were women) were viciously attacked. One victim died after being in a coma.
With the exception of a few that occurred in or outside the victims' homes, the rest occurred in car parks or near popular shopping complexes, which is just as frightening because we all go to these places, usually with our families, including children.
On the bright side, the police were quick to respond by reaching out to the management of the shopping centres on ways to upgrade security.
Most of the shopping centres where the crimes occurred have installed state-of-the-art security features as well as increasing the number of security guards.
In fact, the police have sent several auxiliary policemen (Rela) to some shopping centres to boost the security in their premises.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein on Thursday said the police are now training auxiliary policemen to be deployed in shopping malls next month.
He said at least four malls in the city will be using their services. They are Tropicana City in Petaling Jaya, Sunway Pyramid, Suria KLCC and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.
Besides this, the police are also training security guards to be auxiliary policemen to handle security in shopping malls.
The first batch of 97 security guards have started a nine-week training course at Pulapol, the police training academy.
Meanwhile, what are we supposed to do? Criminals will always be a step ahead.
In the wake of all these crimes being committed, a friend urged me to take up Krav Maga -- a form of martial arts and eclectic self-defence system developed in Israel that involves striking techniques, wrestling and grappling.
Another friend invited me to a "self-defence workshop for women" and another, to sign up for "silat" classes.
This is not an unusual reaction to an environment where you feel a growing sense of insecurity and violation due to reported cases of women as victims of crime.
Many women feel a need to protect themselves. Not just arming themselves with pepper spray and the like, but learning to develop confidence, both mentally and physically.
I am one of them. I encourage women to learn martial arts, whatever form. I am, in my old age, partial to plain kick-butt street-fighting -- Muay Thai or Tomoi (in the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu).
Women must know some form of self-defence or martial arts. It is true they will not be able to pulverise an assailant or assailants armed with a parang or a gun, but learning these art forms is not about doing that.
In the course of learning, one develops a stronger level of confidence, mentally and physically.
In every training session, one learns to perfect one's moves -- to punch harder, to kick harder, to elbow harder. In order to do that, one needs to be fit.
But, really, it is about doing what you can in order to develop that confidence, not about being a martial arts exponent.
That is why I am reminded of what Andrew Curtiss, an American martial arts instructor in Combat and Women's Self-Protection, said: "Criminals are like wolves and they go after easy prey. Statistics have shown that victims who fight back and resist hard are far more likely to survive the ordeal or prevent it altogether. Wolves go after sheep, not other wolves."
My friend Dave also sees that as a positive step. He is organising a martial arts class for women soon.
"It's time all Malaysians came together to reclaim ownership of a safer Malaysia for our loved ones," he said in his blog. It is time, he said for us "to get back Malaysia".
So, my sisters -- how about it so that we will not stay "marah" for long?