• Saturday, June 15, 2024


Fighting back: Woman launches self-defence classes

April Mehmet

By: Nylah Salam

An east London woman has launched an initiative to help make women and girls feel safe on the streets of London no matter what time of day.

April Mehmet, from Chadwell Heath, founded Walk It Out – a project with the aim of improving the physical and mental wellbeing of women through walking together and sharing their experiences.

It comes as more than 80 women have been reported killed this year, with Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard and Caroline Crouch among those who were abducted and murdered.

Mehmet told Eastern Eye: “If I do get approached on the streets, I might be able to duck and dive that person.

“I want to teach women out there that even if they’re not feeling confident, or they’re worried, to just be more assertive, just to pretend to be strong, so you’re not victims.

“Female only boxing classes is really good not only for their [women’s] mental health but to make them feel more in control and even stronger.

“I’ve always loved boxing since I was a little girl, and boxing helps me, and I know that it’ll be beneficial for women.”

Mehmet explained how boxing helped her mindset “being focused, (with) self-discipline and self-belief, pushing myself and pushing my own boundaries.

“For example, things that I didn’t think I could do. For me personally, that physical exercise has helped me in my own self.”

She added: “It was more of a mental help for me. I come out of boxing and I feel really empowered. I feel like I  can take on the world. That’s how it makes me feel.”

Mehmet said she has also already seen improvements and benefits with the women who are attending the classes.

“I want to bring females together in multicultural community from different backgrounds to not only share experiences but can also help to tackle crime.

“I want to be able to support and guide females from different religious backgrounds to remind them of their rights in this country and that they do have a voice,” she said.

Roheema Khanom, 48 from Newham, east London, told Eastern Eye: “I decided to join these boxing classes so that it would help my mental and physical well-being.

“I think in any Asian community, we should be open about what is going on.”
Khanom, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, said there should be more such classes available for females in the community.

“I feel more self-aware. I have learnt how to be more confident when I am out alone or with friends during the night time,” she said.

The self-defence boxing class is run by boxing coach Mark Jean-Pierre, who is supportive of the idea.

Mehmet said: “I think it’s nice that a man in the area is supporting me and supporting these women.”

Sessions will run 4pm to 5.30pm and cost £10 per head.

“I don’t get the money for that, my services are free, but obviously the gym does,” Mehmet said.

For details, see https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/559421785028375/

*Walk It Out daytime walks take place, including in Seven Kings on Mondays at 11am and in South Park and Wanstead every Sunday at 11am.

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