Image Source: Females Fighting Forward
Events over the past weekend have been a chilling and painful reminder of the prevalence of sexual violence in Australia.
Codey Herrmann has entered a guilty plea to the rape and murder of La Trobe University exchange student Aiia Maasarwe.
Her body was found near a Melbourne tram stop in January.
A Queensland man has recently been charged for allegedly raping, torturing, and restraining a woman over a 14-hour period.
The man also allegedly poured petrol over the woman and threatened to set her alight.
Not only this, but a Victorian man has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for repeatedly raping a woman over a two-hour period.
These are only a couple examples of sexual violence which occurred over the weekend. The statistics of sexual violence are even grimmer.
According to a 2018 report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 5 (1.7 million) women and 1 in 20 (428,000) men have been sexually assaulted and/or threatened since the age of 15.
Moreover, intimate partner violence causes more illness, disability, and deaths than any other risk factor for women aged 25–44.
Sexual violence has the capacity of affecting both men and women alike, and has forced thousands of men, women, and children into homelessness in order to avoid family/domestic violence.
Carly Gangell, owner of Females Fighting Forward and Pride Fight Series, as well as South Australia’s Muay Thai Australia Representative, has said lessons in street awareness should be taught in schools.
“When are we ever going to live in a world where bad things don’t happen? Learning self-defence is like learning first-aid. You learn it, but hope to never use it,” Ms Gangell said.
Ms Gangell specialises in the Thai national sport of Muay Thai.
This full-contact combat sport is similar to boxing and kick-boxing, but permits fighters to punch, kick, elbow, and knee their opponents.
As well as this, Ms Gangell has been trained in many different styles of martial arts, including boxing, judo, jiu jitsu, self-defence, and weaponry.
Females Fighting Forward provides programs that cover self-defence techniques, rape and gang situations, car abductions, and how to deal with adrenaline and fear.
The Boars Self Defence Academy, which hosts Females Fight Forward classes, also incorporates anti-abduction training in all child classes.
Ms Gangell has noticed and praised the huge increase in parents enrolling their children, both male and female, into self-defence classes.
“A lot of young teenagers are going out a lot sooner. They don’t have the life skills to remove themselves from situations. They don’t have that knowledge,” she said.
Ms Gangell also described taking ownership over your own self-defence training as an incredibly empowering and crucial step to take towards your own protection.
“Martial artists are aware of what they’re capable of and are often the most confident. Martial artists also have an insight into what other people are capable of, and how to take themselves out of situations,” she said.
“Knowing how to do damage makes you hold yourself differently—it’s empowering. Seeing a woman with zero confidence, then seeing her walk out with it is more rewarding than any title.”
If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, call triple zero (000).
If you are a victim of sexual violence, there are support organisations that will help you, even if you choose not to report it to the police.
The national support hotline for sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse is 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
In addition, you can contact the South Australian Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service on (08) 8226-8777 or 1800 817 421 for support.