Domestic violence is a worldwide problem. Especially, in India, over 19 women out of every 100 thousand across the country experienced domestic abuse in some form in the year 2019.
The number of complaints of domestic violence received by the National Commission for Women rose sharply from 2,960 in 2019 to 5,297 during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
The NCW continues to receive over 2,000 complaints every month of crimes against women with nearly one-fourth of them related to domestic violence.
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Even today, women around the world are subjected to serious physical and psychological violence and exploitation due to domestic violence every day.
Punam Rai from Varanasi was one of the victims of domestic violence. She was left paralysed by her in-laws for giving birth to a girl child, but she fought back and now helps girls learn self-defense.
Punam Rai was originally from Vaishali district in Bihar, later her family shifted to Varanasi in 1983. A year after graduating in Painting from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), she was married to a budding engineer in Patna.
Punam claims that her father had given dowry to her husband’s family without her knowledge. Also, within a week, she learned that her husband had not studied beyond Class 12.
In 1997, she gave birth to her daughter and was subjected to torture by her husband and in-laws. At the age of 22, she was pushed off the balcony by her in-laws.
Punam was in a coma for six months, her spine was severely damaged and had fractures all over her body. She was confined to bed for 17 years.
However, due to her determination, Punam’s upper body started recovering through tedious physiotherapy sessions.
In 2014, Punam lost her father and was completely broken. But she wanted to make her father proud. In 2015, she formed the B R Foundation with her brother’s support. She started teaching for free and participated in various exhibitions.
In 2016, Punam learnt self-defense and soon started teaching others with help from her NGO staff. She then collaborated with the Varanasi Taekwondo Association to support girls who cannot afford to pay for the classes.
Since 2016, she has trained over 3,000 girls, boys and women in Taekwondo. 20 of them have gone on to participate at state and national level tournaments.
On February 28, 2019, Punam Rai met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and gifted him his portrait created by her. Punam is now planning to file a case against her former husband, in-laws and get justice for herself.