Sexual harassment in Indian sports

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2010-2023, Jan

Sabi Hussain/ Wrestling's #MeToo reveals even/ Jan 20, 2023/ India Times- The Times of India

Of the 45 cases of sexual harassment reported at 24 centres run by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) between 2010 and 2019, 29 were against coaches.

Several sports federations such as for handball, khokho and mallakhamb still don’t have a dedicated Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).

  • In the case of mallakhamb, in September 2018 its

federation chief R Indoliya was removed forcibly from his position after he failed to act on sexual harassment charges levelled against him by seven girl athletes.

  • Indian Olympic Association’s former treasurer A

Panday had an FIR registered against him by woman handball player Seema Sharma, who accused him of raping her at the Uttar Pradesh Olympic Association’s office in Lucknow in March last year.

  • In May 2015, four junior female athletes entered into

a suicide pact after being harassed by their coach at a SAI hostel in Kerala’s Alappuzha.

The suicide attempt resulted in the death of 15-yearold rower Aparna Ramachandran.

  • In June 2022, a leading female cyclist accused

national coach RK Sharma of “inappropriate behaviour” during a training-cum-competition trip to Slovenia. The coach was later terminated by SAI after its ICC, prima facie, found him guilty of sexual misconduct.

  • In the same month, a junior female sailor accused a

senior coach of making her “uncomfortable” and “not behaving well” with her during the team’s month-long exposure trip to Germany.

The rising numbers of harassment complaints against its coaches have forced SAI to issue guidelines to the sports federations for ensuring safety of female athletes during foreign exposure trips and at national camps. The SAI advisory says that:

  • Women coaches have to mandatorily accompany

any contingent with female athletes during domestic/international travel,

NSFs should increase women coaches/support staff in national coaching camps,

A compliance officer has to be appointed in all national coaching camps and foreign exposures,

The officer’s responsibilities include communicating regularly with athletes and others to ensure that the guidelines are being followed as well as to enforce the SOP on prevention of sexual harassment in sports.

  • In a telling case, a minor female cyclist from

Ludhiana was forced to leave the national camp at the IG stadium in Delhi in March 2021 after her complaint against assistant coach A Singh for sexually harassing her wasn’t followed by an FIR under the POCSO Act.

  • The administrator of IG stadium that time, A Jyoti,

was promoted and shifted to NIS Patiala from Delhi – when the authorities should have punished her for negligence and her failure to file a police complaint against the coach concerned for molestation.

Indian wrestling is witnessing its very own #MeToo movement where the country’s top women wrestlers have accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, federation chief and BJP MP, of sexual harassment and intimidation.

The case is a grim reminder of how vulnerable India’s female athletes remain to federation bosses, coaches and support staff personnel. Their harassment has not only been a common phenomenon across both government-run sports centres and private cademies, it has even been on the rise in recent years.

See also

Acid attacks: India

Age of consent in India

Crimes against children: India

Crimes against women: India

Eve teasing: India

Juvenile delinquency in India Especially the section 'Rape by juveniles'

Juveniles, benefits and privileges of

Premarital sex

Rape definitions unique to India

Rape in India: longer- term statistics, analyses

Rapes in India: annual statistics

Rapes in India: Compensation and help for survivors

Rapes in India: court verdicts

Rapes in India: the legal position after 2013

Sexual harassment in Indian sports

Sexual harassment in India's media, entertainment, advertising industries; academics

Sexual harassment: India

M J Akbar

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