‘Kung Fu Nuns’ shortlisted for Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

Today News Online Service

New Delhi, March 16

The “Kung Fu Nuns” of the Himalayas are among the three finalists for the prestigious Václav Havel Human Rights Prize.

They are being recognised for curbing human trafficking, fighting for gender equality and mobilising for disaster relief.

This past year, they also fought on the frontlines against the pandemic in India and Nepal, providing remote villages with food, medical supplies, PPE kits and hygiene education.

The more-than 500 Kung Fu Nuns, many of whom are teenagers, took up martial arts to empower themselves to become stronger community leaders.

The nuns of Drukpa lineage were encouraged by the present spiritual head to learn Kung Fu to build strength and confidence –skills that they use to help other, said a joint statement by the Council of Europe, the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation.

Hailing from India, Nepal, Bhutan and regions across the Himalayan belt, these Drukpa nuns now teach self-defence to young girls, speak out against human trafficking, and bring humanitarian aid to remote villages following natural disasters.

“Sometimes older people will tell us we should just stay in the temple and read, or stay in the kitchen. So being a finalist for this award makes us feel very encouraged,” said nun Jigme Konchok Lhamo.

Apart from the Kung Fu Nuns, the other finalists are Loujain Alhathloul, who defied the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, and Julienne Lusenge, a Congolese human rights activist.

Václav Havel was a dissident and well regarded novelist behind the iron curtain who became the President of Czechoslovakia and, after demerger, served as the head of Czech Republic.

The prize is awarded each year by PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation.

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