Buddhist nuns help a participant learn Kung Fu, a form of martial art, during a five-day workshop in Hemis region in Ladakh, India, August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Nita Bhalla
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rising sexual assaults in IndiaMeet the Kung Fu nuns – women from an age-old Buddhist sect who are using their martial arts expertise to challenge gender roles in this conservative culture and teach women self-defense, as reports of rapes rise in India.Wangchuk is one of around 700 nuns globally who belong to the Drukpa lineage – the only female order in the patriarchal Buddhist monastic system where nuns have equal status to monks.This changed almost a decade ago when the leader of the 1,000-year-old sect, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, encouraged the nuns to learn Kung Fu. Inspired by his mother to advocate for gender equality, he also gave the nuns leadership roles and helped them study beyond Buddhist teachings to become electricians and plumbers.The nuns are active in the communities where they live, mainly in Nepal and India, treating sick animals and organizing eye care camps for villagers.The nuns are now taking on one of the biggest threats facing women and girls in India today.The National Crime Records Bureau says 34,651 rapes were reported in 2015 – or four rapes every hour – a rise of 43 percent from 2011 . There were 82,422 sexual assaults, a 67 percent increase over the same period.
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