Olympic athlete Krishna Poonia took on a group of men who were harassing two teen girls at a congested railway crossing in the Churu district of Rajasthan in India on New Year’s Day.
Poonia, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist discus thrower who competed at the 2012 London Olympics, quickly sprung into action while others looked on.
“I chased and caught one of the men, and helped the girls file a complaint,” the Olympian told BBC News. “I was shocked and horrified when I saw these men trying to molest the girls in front of so many people at a busy railway crossing.”
“Nobody did anything until I got out of the car and chased them myself,” she continued. “The girls were traumatized and shaken after the incident. They didn’t even want to file a complaint because they were worried that their families would stop them going out if they incident became public.”
Poonia recently joined the Indian Congress to fight for women’s rights in the country, and said she was “sickened” by the reports of women being assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Bangalore.
Police said they had “credible evidence” of mass molestation and that an investigation into the attacks had been launched.
CCTV footage from the scene revealed women crying and asking for police officers’ protection, according to The Independent.
“Some men only believe in objectifying women,” said Poonia. “They think women are only made for objectifying, and when they get an opportunity to attack they don’t think twice.”
“I felt sick after seeing some pictures of women crying,” she added. “This happened in one India’s biggest cities. You can’t even imagine what happens in small towns and rural areas.”
Twitter users have hailed Poonia as “a real life hero,” with many praising her actions and calling her an inspirational athlete.
Poonia said she doesn’t know if there is a solution that can end sexual violence against women in India once and for all.
But she added: “I guess each of us has to do what we can to stop these incidents.”