How Judo Gave Visually Challenged Janki Goud A New Path
For 23-year-old Janki Goud, learning judo has been the turning point in her life. Goud lost her eye-sight after contracting measles at age 5. She is now a champion judoka post the self-defence training for blind women.
Fear of rape
In Madhya Pradesh, where Goud lives, rape is among the most common crimes against women. Goud is one of 200 women to benefit from a project providing judo and self-defence training by international non-governmental organisation, Sightsavers. The program began in 2014.
“We started self-defence and judo because women living in this area with disabilities expressed so much fear that they could face abuse and attacks if they travelled unaccompanied outside their homes,” Jayashree Kumar, Sightsavers program manager in Madhya Pradesh told CNN.
Instructors were specially trained to teach girls with visual impairment, using physical touch and sounds, such as claps, as well as clear, easy to understand instructions, according to Sightsavers. Goud told CNN how people tried taking advantage of her at times when she has been alone. Her confidence was extremely low when she joined the program in 2010. Now, years later, she is considered as the spokeswoman for the project. She has also taken younger judoka under her wing.
Goud went on to become national champion in blind judo in 2017. She won the bronze at the International Blind Sports Federation in Uzbekistan
She is one of more than 8 million blind people in India, according to Sightsavers.
The program initiative
Department of Crime Against Women and Madhya Pradesh police helped organise this specially designed training program. Most importantly, it’s just not Goud but many other women too who have benefited from the program. What is hope giving is that the project is growing into other regions like Rajasthan. The organisers are hopeful it will spread nationally in the future.
Judo being taught to these women as a path towards empowerment, by giving them a voice they didn’t have. Kumar believes that self-defence can help girls escape emergency, potentially life-changing situations. Given that it’s so dangerous for blind girls and women in India, this program is definitely a huge step for them.