In the small and vulnerable community of Korogocho, a Kenyan slum, women old enough to be grandmothers sit inside a room and learn the art of self defense which includes, “a mixture of karate, kung-fu and taekwondo.”
The martial arts based classes are taught by Sheila Kariuki to about twenty women on a weekly bases. Kaiuki describes a scene from the class of a women hitting a punching back and yelling “Noooooooo!” — a strategy used to ward off potential rapists and criminals.
The barefoot women being taught by 29-year-old Kariuki move swiftly and watch their instructor demonstrate where the vulnerable points are on a man volunteering his time so the women can use him as a guinea pig.
The program launched in 2007 in response to young bandits in their community who were raping women three or four times their age, media outlets have reported.
A 73-year-old participant and teacher, Mary Wangui, told the Telegraph, “every time the boys make a robbery they will ask the grandmas to sleep with them. Young men believe that young girls are all infected with (AIDS), so they’d rather go to the old ones because they know we don’t have any more partners.”
Gladys Wanjiku, a woman claims to be “about 100” says the experience has provided her confidence. When she swings she now believes she can defend herself against an attacker.
“I pray so much for them not to come,” Wanjiku explained. But, “if a young man wants to rape me, now I know where to hit.”
The group has no public money or donations, and is working with a group of elderly women that live alone in the impoverished community. The female participants typically live in one-room homes protected by a brick shelter, and rare have access to running water or steady electricity.
UJAMAA is an African organization that leads a campaign revolved around “NO MEANS NO KENYA.” According to their website, they provide simple, high impact self-defense training to as many women and children as possible across the world.