This Lady From A Remote Village In Odisha Is Empowering Girls With Self Defense

Posted: September 24, 2018

The story of Jayanti Bhoi, a self defense trainer, who is transforming the lives of many girls from her remote village in Odisha. True women empowerment it is!  

Jayanti Bhoi, a self-made woman, is a Master Trainer of self-defense training for girls. Jayanti has bagged the Chief Minister’s Award thrice as the best master trainer (Martial Arts) of Odisha – she is an athlete, a regular blood donor and a social worker who works for the betterment of bonded labourers and for the education of girls. Above all, she is a leader.

Now doing her post-graduation in literature, Jayanti Bhoi’s story is full of struggle and adventures. A real story of unusual courage and indomitable strength. Jayanti belongs to the Risida village, a very small hamlet in the district of Kalahandi (infamous for it’s neglect and suffering in India). Poverty, illiteracy and superstitions are very predominant in this tribal district.

Her father died when she was a three year old child and her sister was just one. As a 23 year old widow, her mother faced coercion and subjugation in their village. Even her brother-in-law (Jayanti’s uncle) forcefully threw them out of their ancestral home.With midday meals and a small scholarship, Jayanti managed to get a first class in her Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC).

Since her childhood Jayanti was very unconventional, and often went outrageously against the traditional norms of the society. Personally she was hurt by all the humiliation she had to undergo, with no male member in the family to support her. Villagers forced her mother to get Jayanti married early, adhering to their traditional customs which dictate a girl should be sent to her in-laws’ home as soon as she hits puberty. But Jayanti strongly opposed the move and got admitted into her +2 in Arts where she got a first class. She later joined the Government Autonomous College, Bhawanipatna to continue her studies.

The decision that changed her life

It was a debate competition at the ladies hostel where I as the superintendent marked her. She was not a good orator but after the competition when I asked the girls to share their experiences (the topic was about ‘Women Empowerment‘) Jayanti told us how she slapped boys who were using foul language in the train, when she had been to Maharashtra to take part in sports.

When the state government launched the self defense training for girls, I started counselling them to attend martial arts training. Jayanti came forward and accompanied me to Utkal Karate School in Bhubaneswar, along with six other girls fully sponsored by the state government. She was just one representative of countless women’s suffering, but she had a promise to fight against all odds and evils of our society.

She returned with a complete transformation. It was not a fight for her bread and butter alone, but a fight for dignity and true emancipation of women. Now she is a master trainer for college girls of the district. The Government pays her well for imparting training to all school and college girls. From the very first year of her graduation she is self reliant as a master trainer. She is a simple, innocent, emotional yet surprisingly very strong girl.

Winning all the battles

It was a great challenge for Jayanti to get back their croplands, for which she started fighting in the courts of law. The judicial verdict came in their favour and now her mother is a famous lady farmer in their village. Jayanti said, “When my mother walks on the village road like a queen, everyone says, ‘see Jayanti’s mother is going.’ Even my village is gaining popularity in my name and it’s indeed a proud moment for me”.

It’s not an easy task for young girls and their family to fight against the social stigma. The most interesting fact is that the same villagers are now proposing her name for becoming the Sarpanch in the next elections. But Jayanti wants to be a government officer.

Jayanti says that physical abuse against young girls and women is decreasing in her village and even the outlook of villagers is changing rapidly. Jayanti is emerging as the new voice and role-model for many girls from rural areas. She is an ardent fan of boxer Mary Kom. Though she cannot opt for boxing now, she has started undergoing training for judo and karate.

She is an inspiration and motivation for millions of girls. I wish her all the success in life and salute her patience, perseverance and hard work for making her dreams come true.

Image Credit – Author of the article

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Asst professor by profession .I protest against each injustice. Strong supporter of female education and

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  1. A very positive article which gives us some hope that we can expect some change for the better in the peoples’ mindset

  2. Pallishree Pattanayak -

    Thank you womenweb for your continuous support to me.

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