‘Girls using Tube need lessons in self-defence’, says harassment campaigner

·2-min read
Zan Moon submitted  a 19-page dossier detailing women’s experiences of harassment on public transport to Mayor Sadiq Khan ( )
Zan Moon submitted a 19-page dossier detailing women’s experiences of harassment on public transport to Mayor Sadiq Khan ( )

London schoolgirls should be taught self-defence in PE lessons to help them fend off attacks on the tube and buses, a campaigner said.

Zan Moon, who last week gave a 19-page dossier detailing women’s experiences of harassment on public transport to Mayor Sadiq Khan, said the government should fund the self-defence lessons.

Ms Moon, who described public transport in London as a “hotbed of harassment”, said: “We don’t have the luxury of time to simply wait around for a generation of boys to unlearn misogynistic beliefs, we must do something to help our sisters and ourselves in the meantime.”

She added: “Many activists argue women shouldn’t have to learn to defend themselves and the onus should be on boys to be properly educated. But why can’t we do both? Why can’t we empower women with these skills whilst also educating boys?”

In just one week Ms Moon collected 180 testimonials from women and girls who had been harassed while on the Tube, on a bus or walking home. Most victims said other people witnessed the events but did not intervene. The evidence she collected includes reports of men exposing themselves to women, groping them and stalking them.

Ms Moon said: “Imagine how many assaults could be prevented if we actually taught girls from a young age the proper self-defence techniques based on basic biology of the human body pressure points?”

She said she herself has learned Krav Maga, a form of self-defence used by the Israeli military and feels more safe.

She said: “I now feel empowered and much more confident walking the streets of London at night. I know how to disarm someone with a knife. I know the seven pressure points on the male form. I feel that I would be able to fend off an attacker if the worst case scenario occurred.

“We have seen women take it upon themselves to try things such as putting keys between their knuckles, or share their location with friends. These are futile solutions.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “The compulsory Relationship, Sex, and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum continues to play an important role in teaching young people about topics such as consent and respect.

“There are no plans to make self-defence mandatory in the curriculum, but schools have flexibility to provide this should they choose.”

Ms Moon has also set up a ‘DefendHer’ Instagram page giving tips for women on self defence, and also helped to expose “rape culture” in some private schools by collecting testimonies from victims and sending an open letter to headteachers of the schools.

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