By Aindrisha Mitra
Pritivi Chhabria, 19, who is a black belt winner in Karate is using his skills in martial arts to help girls fight for themselves. Along with his Karate trainer, he founded “Empower”- a non-profit organization which trains about 200 girls in government schools in Chennai free of cost.
A student of The International School, Bangalore, Pritivi and his trainer R. Kannan approached the Education Department with a proposal to conduct self-defence training in girls’ schools. Their idea was welcomed by the Education Board which granted them permission to train in three government higher secondary schools in the area. Currently, they train in the Chennai Girls Higher Secondary School in Nungambakkam and Saidapet.
Pritivi who began taking Karate classes at an early age of nine was struck by the appalling number of rape cases reported every year. His urge to volunteer against the rampant gender abuse is why he came up with “Empower”which aims at making girls self-sufficient in defence training.
“Around 106 rapes happen every day in India with about 47% against minors. In 90% of cases, perpetrators get away because they are not counter-attacked on the spot of the incident,” said Pritivi who is hopeful that the defence training will help instill courage in girls to retaliate.
Girls from Classes VI to VIII participate in these Karate classes. Most of them belong from underprivileged backgrounds and hence, the free of cost classes allow them to sign up for something beneficial apart from the regular curriculum in schools.
Kannan who takes classes when Pritivi is absent, thinks that this training programme will help enhance cognitive abilities as much as physical fitness. Trained in both Karate and Kalaripayattu, Kanan does this as a full time job as he also teaches in private schools like Cambridge Matriculation High School in Royapettah and conducts classes, privately.
The duo has been allocated the last one hour by the schools, i.e. from 2:30-3:30 for this activity. However, the struggle is to emphasize the importance of self defence programmes over extra-curriculars, which are viewed as more essential, especially in today’s world.
Kajal Chhabria, Pritivi’s mother who supported him from the very beginning said that this programme aims to reach the grassroot levels of society and guide the girls in a manner so that they can empower themselves, without anybody’s help.
“Being a woman myself, I feel the need for girls to be absolutely independent and fight their own battles, with efficiency and expertise,” says Kajal who is a proud mom tracking Pritivi’s achievement as a young entrepreneur.
“Practising Martial Arts can be a great way to discipline oneself and channelize his/her energy into something productive, which is why I thought it imperative for girls to take it up from a young age itself,” says Pritivi who has several accolades to his name.
Pritivi who is also an aspiring software developer has built his Empower website armed with facts and links to related accounts. He etches out his goals clearly and is presently trying to get other sponsors on board to expand this project, so that it reaches more to the masses.