Astana kicks off free women’s self-defence courses

ASTANA – The first free courses teaching self-defence basics for women began in the city as a social project to raise awareness and protect vulnerable members of society.

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Violence against women and children in Kazakhstan has increased by 90 percent compared to 2015, reported More than 8,000 female victims were registered in the past three years, according to data from the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The common stereotype and media representation of women being weaker is strongly rooted in Kazakh society. The project seeks to support them with the ability to defend themselves and show that self-defence is a vital skill for all.

“The girls and their parents should understand that they should not only be good at dancing, fitness and gymnastics, but also self-defence. After all, this martial art can save a life when nobody is available in a difficult minute,” said Serik Rysbai, course coach and founder of Oidene self-defence school.

Rysbai, who has 28 years’ experience training athletes and beginners, developed the special one-month express course. He starts the training with theory, because he believes many women know about attacks only from the criminal chronicles, and real life is different. He noted women who have encountered violence usually show more interest in the course.

“The attack is always a non-standard situation; the state of the affect – the mind is blocked, the fear paralyses the person. But if you know the basics of self-defence, then reflexes worked out in the gym begin to work,” he said.

Kazakh poultry firm Capital Project LTD (known as Kurochka Ryaba), which is supporting the project, received 50 applications for the free courses through social networks. Although many women were ultimately unable to participate, it formed a group of 15 women ages 20-50.

The individuals noted in addition to increasing the chances of surviving a sudden attack, the courses build confidence and improve overall health.

Nagima, a civil servant who only gave her first name, stressed her salary barely covers her basic needs and she cannot always afford sports. Thus, courses offered for free give her the opportunity to stay fit and, most importantly, feel safer walking down the street.

The self-defence course is a non-commercial programme and Capital Project LTD plans to extend it to the entire country.

“We hope that our initiative is supported by other socially oriented brands and we are able to open a whole network of such schools throughout the country. None of us can predict the future and it is possible that self-defence skills can be a fateful decision. The women of our country have the right to be protected,” said company head Maxim Bozhko.

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