They preach non-violence but now Surat's women Jain monks are having to take self-defence lessons

(Think Change India)

Amid cases of harassment, the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti women’s wing has begun training sessions for women Jain monks. The two-hour sessions will be held thrice a week for three months.

For the first time, female Jain monks are being trained to defend themselves. The training sessions, initiated by the RSS’ women’s wing, come amid rising incidents of molestation and harassment. Most recently, a woman monk at Kailashnagar Jain Upashray in Surat, Gujarat, was allegedly “touched” by the 22-year-old son of the priest of a Jain temple while she was sleeping.

Jain monk during a training session, source Desh Gujarat

Chanchala Tokravat, President of Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, has been training a group of 40 female monks since Monday along with three female assistants. The two-hour training sessions will be held thrice a week for three months.

Ashit Gandhi, President of Surat’s Jeevan Kalyan Trust, reached out to Chanchala Tokravat for training in self-defence for the women. In an interview with Indian Express, she said,

We will teach them how to defend with a stick and without sticks, with only arms and legs. We want to make them mentally and physically strong. I was thrilled seeing the enthusiasm of the women monks on the first day. It is a great honour for me to impart training to them.

She added, “Since childhood, I have been associated with Rashtra Sevika Samiti and have received self-defence training. In the last few years, I have been imparting self-defence training to women.”

Jains monks preach non-violence and don't even wear footwear so as not to crush any insects or ants while they walk, reports the Dailyhunt. But the threat of attacks has led to seers seeking self-defence training.

A 25-year-old female monk undergoing training said: “Our religion teaches us not to harm any living thing, and we are careful about this. But apart from this, our religion also teaches us to protect ourselves in danger. Through this training, we can protect ourselves, with our hands and with the sticks that we carry. This will be helpful to us, and in my opinion, every sadhvi should take such training.”

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