ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF SPORTSWOMEN
2nd August 2010
A four-member delegation led by AIDWA General Secretary Sudha Sundararaman met the Sports Minister Shri M S Gill on 2nd Aug. 2010 to submit a memorandum requesting intervention on the recent incidents of sexual harassment brought to light by some sportswomen. The delegation included T N Seema (Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha), Jagmati Sangwan (Winner of National Bheema Award for Sports) and Ashalata (Assistant Secretary, AIDWA). The Minister held an active discussion with the delegation, highlighting the complexities involved in taking legal action in such cases, and focusing on some of the constructive and concrete steps that could be taken to address the problem. A three point action strategy emerged on the basis of the discussion. The Minister assured that, on the basis of the findings made by the committee set up by the Ministry to enquire into the current complaints of sexual harassment, firm legal action would be taken. The Ministry would also communicate to the State governments the need to immediately set up Sexual Harassment Committees in the Sports Councils and other sports institutions as per the Visakha Guidelines. The Minister also responded positively to the suggestion for a larger consultation between sportspersons, women’s organizations, and the Ministry, which could help in evolving a more gender sensitive sports policy.
MEMORANDUM TO SPORTS MINISTER ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF SPORTSWOMEN
Shri. M S Gill,
Hon’ble Minister for Sports
Dear Shri M S Gill,
The Sports Ministry is aware about the recent complaints of sexual harassment made against their respective coaches by leading sportswomen in the fields of hockey and weightlifting, which are indicative of a grim malaise afflicting the whole sports sector.
Hockey India’s four member committee has sacked the videographer M. Basavaraja, and has reportedly sent the details of the sexual harassment complaint against coach M.K. Kaushik to the Sports Ministry, recommending police action under Sec 354 of the IPC. It has criticized its own committee for not recommending stern action against the concerned coach. In the wake of these charges, other players of importance have also come forward with complaints of sexual blackmail against M.K Kaushik. Yet there has been no criminal action taken against him by the Ministry.
The statement made by Olympics bronze medalist Karnam Malleshwari (carried in the national papers on 25.7.10) accusing the IWF coach Malhotra of being guilty of sexually harassing juniors for a decade is a shocking revelation of the state of affairs that is prevailing in the sports sector as a whole. These incidents appear to be more than random instances of exploitation and violence. Such a trend, if left unchecked, will totally destroy women’s nascent attempts to prove their mettle in the sports arena.
AIDWA would like to point out that delayed complaints are being made by affected women because there has been no institutional provision within the sports federations where women can go and freely express their grievances. This represents a grave lacuna at a time when women are emerging as players at the national level. The Sports Authority and the Sports Ministry would be doing them grave injustice if their problems are not addressed in a systemic way.
Hence AIDWA demands that:
- The Sports Ministry must launch an immediate and thorough investigation based on the complaints, take stringent action against all those found guilty, and move towards preventing further occurrences of this nature.
- Criminal action should be initiated against Mr. MK Kaushik for sexual harassment immediately.
- Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee must be set up under all the sectors that come under the Sports Ministry as per the Visakha guidelines with immediate effect.
- Legislation to address sexual harassment which is now pending for over a decade should be enacted by the current session of parliament so that cases such as these can be tackled exemplarily, and with the urgency required.
We appeal to you, sir, to ensure that the issue is dealt with seriously by the Government. A gender sensitive sports policy should be developed for the country as a whole, which also addresses the specific problems faced by sportswomen. This would help to improve women’s performance in the field of sports, and encourage them further at a time when many of them are bringing laurels to our nation.