Yemen’s capital Sanaa, a city grappling under the aftermath of war and pandemic, has a row of young girls in red, white and black white uniforms practicing self defence.
The girls are all students at Academia gym, a project initiated by champion Yemeni kickboxer Seham Amer. “In Yemeni society, people fear for girls. Many come to train to learn self-defence, others train for fitness.”
It was set up by Amer to strengthen women and girls in the city in 2015, after the Iran-aligned Houthi group captured control of Sanaa and most of north Yemen.
Classes have continued amid the fighting, restrictions and curbs.
Amer said, “Before we had a problem with little girls who stop their training by 12 to 14 years as they could not continue with male trainers. I feel that I have changed that now, older women come to train with me in my gym.”
At least 50 women and girls have joined classes for kickboxing, karate, kung fu and other programmes.
One of the students, Dhikra, said, “The first thing that happened when I started training was that I lost weight, then my self-confidence had a boost and my personality got stronger.”
Source: News Agencies