A large number of women from the Pakistani Hazara community are coming forward to learn martial arts so they can deliver sidekicks and elbow blows when they are hit with a calamity. Slowly and steadily, martial arts seems to flourish within the Hazara community.
Women usually encounter humiliation and harassment from men, with groping a frequent occurrence in crowded markets or on public transport. Being able to defend oneself will help all women, regardless of background, feel secure and confident to deal with the difficulties they need to face in order to survive the world.
Hazaras have faced decades of sectarian violence in the southwestern city of Quetta. Living in two separate enclaves cordoned off by checkpoints and armed guards to protect them.
“We can’t stop bomb blasts with karate, but with self-defense, I have learned to feel confident,” 20-year-old Nargis Batool told AFP. “Everyone here knows that I am going to the club. Nobody dares say anything to me while I am out.”
Around 4,000 people are going to regular classes in more than 25 clubs in Balochistan, says Ishaq Ali, the head of the Balochistan Wushu Kung Fu Association, which oversees the sport. The city´s two largest academies, which train around 250 people each, told AFP the majority of their students were young Hazara women. Many of them go on to earn money from the sport, taking part in frequent competitions.
‘Exceptions are being made’
Despite being a deeply conservative society, it is still uncommon for women to participate in sports in Karachi, including in martial arts, where exceptions are happening according to martial arts teacher Fida Hussain Kazmi.
“In general, women cannot exercise in our society. But for the sake of self-defense and her family, they are being allowed”. The uptake is also credited to national champions Nargis Hazara and Kulsoom Hazara. They have won medals in international competitions.
Having studied the sport from a Chinese master in Lahore, Kazmi claims to have trained hundreds of women over the years. The 41-year-old offers two hours of training six days a week for 500 rupees ($3). He gives free classes to women who have lost a relative to militant violence.
“The Hazara community is facing many problems. But with karate, we can begin to feel safe,” said 18-year-old student Syeda Qubra. Her brother was killed in a bomb blast in 2013.
It may be recalled that Pakistan’s female karate star Kulsoom Hazara, hailing from Quetta, received the ‘Icon of the Nation’ award lately. Nothing is impossible for the girl who lost both her parents before her 10th birthday.
These are just a few examples of her achievement, whereas, she has bagged countless awards. Needless to say, these Pakistani female athletes are making the nation proud more than ever!
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