WATCH|The Muay Thai champion striking up a sisterhood of self-defence
In Rayana Ameeroedien’s Muay Thai gym, a transformation is underway. Knuckles raised, women follow the teacher’s every move until sweat drips from their skin and confidence emanates from their core.
A master of the Thai style of boxing, Ameeroedien scans every face that stands before her and remembers why she does this.
In September 2019, gender-based violence brought South Africa to a standstill. That was the moment Ameeroedien decided to spark the change the country needed to see.
“I’m tired of women being described as victims,” she says. “It’s time we fought back.” Through social media, Ameeroedien extended an invitation to women offering self-defence classes at no cost.
Using their fists, elbows, knees, and shins as weapons, as prescribed by the discipline, pupils of all ages gained the courage and expertise to hold their own.
Within a month, Ameeroedien single-handedly trained 300 women, while her gesture of concern reached more than 42 000 people on Facebook.
“I hope that I have made an impact on women and girls especially,” Ameeroedien says. No one should have to resort to violence for their safety.
But having the strength to protect yourself is a move toward empowerment.