Workshop empowers women students at university with self-defence skills to ward off predators

A group of students who attended a self-defence workshop at the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

A group of students who attended a self-defence workshop at the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 7, 2023


Noxolo Miya

Pretoria - Woman students at the University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, are committed to promoting their safety and empowerment.

They are doing so by learning self-defence skills during the ongoing Adoozy INPowered Personal Protection workshop, spearheaded by Adoozy Power.

The workshop is aimed to equip the students with essential self-defence skills and empower them with safety knowledge and the physical ability to fend off predators so they can feel safer within their communities.

One of the key objectives of the workshop is to create a safe space in which students can discuss their concerns and experiences related to safety on campus. It encourages open dialogue and empowers participants to share their stories, which provide a platform for solidarity and support among woman students at the university.

University of Pretoria’s women students during a self-defence session at the Hatfield Campus. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Mimy Ntlonti, a final-year student studying a BSc in Human Physiology, Genetics and Psychology, said: “From the workshop we did today, it opened my eyes to see how women are in danger in South Africa. I leant a lot in terms of awareness and how to spot or pick up the signs should one find onself in potentially threatening situations. We broke wooden boards, and I was excited to see that I could actually do that with my bare hands.”

Organiser of Adoozy Power, Mathabo Sekhonyanam, said the workshop was organised to focus on teaching practical techniques to help women defend themselves effectively in dangerous situations, as these skills could boost confidence and serve as a deterrent against potential perpetrators.

“Our safety programme targets young females who are vulnerable to high levels of crime and gender-based violence. We’ve previously worked with ladies in a Johannesburg township and KwaZulu-Natal, where murder and rape is at an all-time high.

“Pretoria has been on a downward spiral with its crime levels climbing year on year, so if we can make young females feel even a little safer in their environment, then we’ve hopefully made a difference to their quality of life,” she said.

Another student said she learnt valuable and practical safety tips.

“It was nice to learn about things that are practical and not theocratical and too complicated. I’ve been empowered by this workshop to trust my intuitions, instead of being told that ‘oh you’re paranoid’ because it’s easy to be paranoid instead of trusting your own instincts.”

Speaking to Pretoria News, Mupeka Tembo said: “My message to other young women across South Africa would be trust yourself and don’t be afraid to look after yourself or look out for yourself. It’s okay if you offend someone out of safety. Over reacting can save your own life. In some situations, it's better to protect yourself than just be polite.”

Mark Grobbelaar, founder and facilitator of the workshop, said: “We structure the workshop in such a way that the participants don’t only feel physically empowered, but mentally too. There’s so much stigma around speaking up or feeling like there’s permission to hold your own space.”

Research conducted by Adoozy Power within the past year revealed that more than 65% of the women had known or knew someone who had experienced gender-based violence, but the case had not been reported.

In their 2022 research among young women, 23% had felt unsafe over the past week when they were out of their homes, and 33% had felt unsafe within the past month. Fifty percent said they did not know how to defend themselves if they needed to, and more than 55% said they were unsure of the warning signs they should look out for in a potentially threatening situation.

Pretoria News