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Kolkata karate girl is icon

Kolkata: The inspiring story of how a Kolkata slum girl suffering from epilepsy fought against all odds to become a karate champion and train other women to fight against violence is now part of an international documentary.

A crew led by director Koen Suidgeest from Netherlands is presently shooting the film ‘Girl Connected’ in the dingy bylanes of Beniapukur where the black-belt Ayesha Noor, 19, lives. Her tale is part of an hour-long documentary being made by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) of USA as part of the Women and Girls Lead Global initiative to highlight stories of women empowerment.

Noor with her mother

“The most appealing part of her story is that she has not only made herself independent but has also started giving Sunday classes voluntarily on martial arts to other girls. She is also empowering others,” the filmmaker said.

Noor has been giving free training to women on karate every Sunday morning at Ladies Park where even married women and those in ‘burqa’ participate.

“I train them so that they are empowered on their own to fight against crime, violence and rape,” Noor said.

The film would be screened in different parts of the world to inspire other women.

It shows how a girl from a poor background, who had no money to get trained and was suffering from epilepsy, rose to the top because of her sheer talent and hard work. 

Noor has won three gold medals in international championships so far. The last one was during 2015 in Thailand where 40 nations had participated. .

“We are shooting this documentary to highlight the power of women. It is a part of the project that highlights the achievements of women across the globe. We selected Ayesha because she not only fought for herself but is also empowering other women in her slum,” Koen said.

Aisha’s father died when she was only 13 years old. Despite odds, poverty and suffering from epilepsy, she continued her education and also learnt Karate. She lives in a small room in the slum with her mother and four siblings. Her father died six years ago.

“I feel that every woman should learn self-defense and implement it at the time of danger. This will empower them in true sense,” said Noor while helping her mother in making chapatis.  

Aisha Noor is one of the five girls from Bangladesh, Kenya, Peru and Jordan who have chosen to be faces of Women & Girls Lead Global.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 February 2016 on page no. 13

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