Eve teasing has become a part of daily life. Young girls are often asked by their parents to stay indoors. Women who reject proposals often become a victim of acid attack. Men lech at women and pass lewd comments. Sexual violence against women including rape has risen in recent years. At a time when cases of rapes and molestation are hitting an all-time high across the nation, especially Uttar Pradesh, a group of young girls is fighting the crimes against women. Red Brigade – a self defence group from Lucknow has a straight forward message to men.
Usha Vishwakarma was 18 when she was attacked by a hooligan. A survivor of attempted rape, she decided to fight for the cause of women’s safety in India. As a result, a group was formed in Lucknow with fifteen women who were dedicated to stopping sexual violence against women. Usha and her army of women were given the name ‘Red Brigade’ by people when they saw the women together in similar red outfits. Most of the young girls have been a victim of molestation or rape in the past. They are survivors.
Red Brigade operates in Lucknow, Varanasi and Agra. The team organizes martial arts training workshops for young girls so that men do not have a physical advantage over them. World –class trainers are an integral part of workshops. The women are taught in the way that targets the weaknesses of the attacker. They educate women on their rights and the laws associated with different types of violence against women. Survivors are the backbone of Red Brigade and are in leading roles.
The group has also begun educating young boys about same-sex molestation cases. Just like young women, young boys are required to be educated on self defence mechanisms. One of the most important activities that Red Brigade undertakes is empowering rape and molestation survivors, acid-attack survivors and helping them open up. They first counsel them, educate them and help them get back on their feet.
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan praised Usha Viswakarma as young and fiesty for leading an all women fighter group. So many news papers, channels, journals and magazines approached Usha and her team to cover their story. Their popularity has transcended national boundaries. Red Brigade want to train more girls, reach out more people with their awareness programs. All the best girls.