In 2004, one of my friends, Sarah, used to work part-time during university.
I saw her a couple of times with bruises on her face, and I asked her what was wrong. She never answered, until one day she told me every time she went home, her brother and father used to beat her up and take her money. Every. Single. Day.
I asked her, “why don’t you do something about it?” and she answered that there was absolutely nothing she can do about it.
I felt really bad about her situation. It made me realize how women are facing violence in society and they don’t have the courage to take action.
70% of women under 20 years old suffer from domestic violence in Jordan, and no one feels responsible about the situation.
With a background in Martial Arts, I decided to take action. I started training women in self-defense out of the basement of my house, teaching women how to protect and defend themselves from different types of violence.
In 2012, I started my own self-defense studio, SheFighter. I did this with the aim of putting an end to violence against women.
Besides self-defense training, SheFighter provides workshops on harassment, sexual assaults and domestic violence.
In our workshops, we teach women that there is never a reason to accept violence. They are not the victims and they must be prepared for any dangerous attacks.
Sometimes we invite men to speak about the importance of men and women working in society to develop the country and enhance the economy.
You might be surprised to hear that we have seniors who attend our workshops, women who are 75 years old and are confident and sure enough about the importance of female empowerment in life.
When I started SheFighter, I was met with adversity. I was told that women will never defend themselves and this idea would fail. But I proved them wrong.
Since opening SheFighter, I have trained more than ten thousand women all over Jordan and the Middle East. That shows you how scared women are.
Let me tell you a story about a girl called Lubna, who was recently attacked in the elevator of her own building by a stranger.
Lubna was walking toward the elevator and didn’t know someone was following her. As she stepped inside the elevator, she felt herself being pushed against the wall. A man was trying to choke her and then tried to rape her.
Lubna felt really scared and started sweating, but she used her self-defense training and started pushing him away from her. Suddenly he was afraid- he thought he might get caught, so he ran.
She was so angry she chased him through the streets. She asked some guys for help and they managed to catch him.
Then the police came. Lubna pressed charges against this man and managed to send him to jail for 3 years for sexual assault.
Sadly, in our society, it is normal that women accept violence. This is why we have to take an action to end violence. Women shouldn’t live in fear; they must be strong enough to face every challenge in their lives.
We must empower women in society and strive for gender equality in order to give women better opportunities in life, to believe in them and support them throughout their journeys.
In today’s world, women are also essential to a country’s economic growth- they comprise roughly 50% of the available workforce. They should be able to contribute without fear.
Self-defense is just one of the great approaches that can build womens’ self-esteem. There are many other tools we can use, such as providing women with motivational workshops to build a female generation of leaders, change-makers, and influencers.
We as women need to start supporting each other, and we need mens’ help on this matter because there is no reason for women not to learn self-defense.
Let’s work for a better world where women can shine above all obstacles.