Sex crime rise prompts interest in self-defence classes

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A SHARP increase in sexual misconduct in Almeria has generated interest in self-defence classes.

Statistics released by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior show that in 2016-17, sexual crimes have gone up by 27 percent in Andalucia and 48 percent in the Almeria Province.

Reported instances of rape, however, are down by 8 and 60 percent respectively.

Gavin Cullen, senior instructor of the Blue Dragon Iron Fist Kung Fu centre in Almeria Province, has expressed alarm: “National, even global statistics don’t change the fact that danger can exist round every corner. The most important thing we teach our students is self-awareness and self-confidence.

“What citizens, and particularly young women and vulnerable adults can do is walk away from a dangerous situation when they can, but know how to defend themselves as a last resort.”

El Ejido, where Cullen is based, has seen a sharp rise of 75 percent for sexual related incidents.

The National Statistics Institute of Spain has also reported that there were 28, 281 victims of gender violence and 6,863 victims of domestic violence in 2016-17. The World Health Organisation reports that in Europe alone, 1 in 3 women have been victims of domestic abuse.

Cullen added that: “We, as club owners, don’t just teach martial arts. It’s not Bruce Lee. Sadly, the police can’t be there at all times. We offer, we want and we’re determined to give our pupils practical, sensible and situational skills.”

Sifu Keith Fanning, who operates the Blue Dragon Iron Fitness globally, thinks interest in their work forms part of a pattern:

“What we’re noticing is people are seeking us out. Unfortunately these attacks, wherever you are in the world, are common and people should be knowledgable and confident with how to defend themselves.

“Social media and the news have been more useful in raising awareness about violent crimes than silly kick-ass films ever were.”

Both martial arts instructors, along with police forces around the world, continue to stress that situational-awareness and vigilance are important factors in increasing personal safety.

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