In Cúcuta, women will learn to defend themselves against their aggressors

For Valentina* to remember the night that two men intimidated her with shoves on a street in the center of the city and stole her belongings, is to relive a chapter that to this day still generates unsafety when he leaves his house.

A similar case happens to Sandra*, a young woman who listens to all kinds of comments on public transport every day and who was once the victim of sexual harassment by an older adult when he touched her without her consent, which made her falling into an episode of anxiety that she lived in silence for fear of being judged.

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just like them, a total of 1,544 women were victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Cúcuta during 2022, cases that were attended by the National Institute of Health; the classification of these complaints includes physical, sexual and psychological violence.

Faced with this problem, Johana Orozco, president of the Norte de Santander Judo League and sports manager of the federation of this discipline, invited citizens to participate in self-defense workshops held in the city to share tools that allow them to develop safe and GBV-free spaces.

In the first meeting, which took place last Sunday at the Las Cascadas Theater, located on Los Libertadores avenue, more than a dozen women met on the sports stage with a single objective, practice basic martial arts techniques and in this way, learn to defend yourself against your attackers in a risky situation and increase your self-esteem.

And it is that in front of the curious look of families that meet in The Malecon To spend a quiet morning, Orozco, the judo coach Valentina Rubio and the karate fighter – black belt Astrid Quijano, the most experienced athletes in Norte de Santander in their disciplines, were in charge of leading these sessions of training and physical strength.

Socially, many behaviors that represent some type of aggression against us women tend to be normalizedFor this reason, the workshops that we present are based on responses to real situations that can occur in daily life”, highlighted Johana Orozco.

Similarly, Orozco recalled that the extremities of the body of the women, such as elbows, knees and knuckles, they can become defense weapons when the situation warrants it and a real danger is felt, hence the importance of being prepared and reacting correctly.

The athletes Astrid Quijano, Johana Orozco and Valentina Rubio, lead the workshops. The opinion

‘Together we are stronger’

For Andrea Vanegas, a member of Ashira, a feminist collective with a class perspective, the space allowed the attendees to integrate around a common theme for all and in this way, reduce the risks in violent situations that women face.

“Making the struggle visible and transforming social spheres is of the utmost importance, it helps to reduce the institutional burdens that fall on us when we are victims of some type of violence, which ultimately ends up re-victimizing us (…) We want to get out of our comfort zone , to be able to reach that housewife, that informal employee and do an inclusive pedagogy”, she mentioned.

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Just like Andrea, more girls from different organizations participated in the activity, using the basic techniques of grappling, hitting and bending, some of them even dared to knock down their exercise partner to put what they had learned into practice.

On the other hand, Lynn Bohórquez, one of the spokespersons for La Batucada, emphasized that the commitment that these groups acquire with each woman through art and sorority It is essential, but now, with the integration of sport, it is an opportunity to continue breaking down barriers.

“Each grain of sand adds up, it is the first time that the city opens the doors to these days focused on inclusion, especially for women, it is a positive impact, since word of mouth makes more people find out and attend We are happy to be able to break myths and stigmas that exist in society and be able to defend ourselves,” said the member of the collective focused on the resistance and constant fight for women’s rights.

Bohórquez too invited the people of Cucuta to learn what feminism really is, make their struggle visible and learn more about their actions.

“We are all capable, we want to break labels and stereotypes that exist in society, make ourselves known and show that we have the same capabilities, we are not different and we are showing it,” she said.

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Self defense in women

The techniques learned will allow women to defend themselves against possible kidnappings, robberies and sexual harassment. The opinion

Activities in the neighborhoods

According to Johana Orozco, the training days are held on Mondays and Fridays from 2:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon and on Saturdays from 10:00 in the morning to noon in the Eustorgio Colmenares minor coliseum, while on Sundays they will be integrated into the exhibition window of the most representative sports that are practiced in the region in the traditional bike path.

However, Orozco’s main bet is focused on the communes of the city, because he wants to impact as many people as possible and this would be achieved if the scenarios were transferred directly to the neighborhoods.

“In order to impact the entire community, we will make an alliance with the feminist movementss, since they have done a super important job with the populations and in this way it is possible to identify those places where they need this intervention, the ideal would be to visit all corners of the city and in addition to teaching self-defense, explain more about GBV and of everything that this implies”, explained the athlete.

Self defense in women

Both men and women can participate in these free spaces. The opinion

Violet line, your friend number

The Violet Line of the Secretariat of Gender Equality of Cúcuta (350 7505351), guided 462 women during 2022 and guaranteed access to justice in 203 GBV cases.

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According to the Norte de Santander Gender Affairs Observatory, 68.9% of the cases occur in the capital of the department.

Through this hotline, together with the purple tent strategy and protective environments, activities are carried out to promote rights and prevent violence against women and the LGBTIQ+ population, and work is being done to prevent street harassment in the framework of the construction of a civic culture.

Self defense in women

According to Gabriela Chacón, director of the Norte de Santander Gender Affairs Observatory, compared to the first half of 2021, last year the media reported fewer GBV news stories, Despite not being official figures, it is a good input to know how much registration is recognized on this subject and the follow-up that is done.

“Of the 56 news items registered in 2021, 22 fewer articles were reported the following year (34 in total), generally about kidnappings, femicides, and media impact,” he emphasized.

Faced with this, Chacón recalled that the boss of the perpetrators is repetitive, that they are men who, in general, are not linked to illegal groups and who tend to have violent behavior to the point of physical aggression.

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