Instances of sexual harassment, especially when the subjects are women, is not uncommon in India. And in sports as well, the issue is one of the major concerns.
Only a couple of days back, a few senior female athletes were greeted by a message as they walked into the Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. "This is to inform you that, please do masturbating before practice", the message read. The entire washroom was filled with such obscene messages, each of them counter-signed by the ‘sports authority’.
Women athletes are often subjected to sexual harassment – they are condemned for their choice of attire and objectified beyond imagination. And most of the times, these women are forced to accept the circumstances as the authorities turn a blind eye, which is worse.
Here, we celebrate the success of the PV Sindhus and the Sania Mirzas. And then these women, who bring glory to the country, have to face various forms of sexual harassment. On this note, we take a look at five such instances of sexual harassment in Sports in the country when no action was taken despite reporting.
#5 15-year-old female athlete commits suicide following sexual harassment (2015)
A young female athlete was, allegedly, sexually harassed by a few senior athletes in May 2015. The 15-year-old committed suicide after the incident and three others were hospitalised after consuming poisonous fruits in an apparent suicide pact.
The athletes were in training at the Sports Centre of Sports Authority (SAI) water sports centre at Vembanad Lake, Alappuzha, Kerala.
Following the incident, Injeti Srinivas, SAI’s director-general, stated that he would submit his report to the Sports Minister “in a day”. Meanwhile, the Sports Secretary of Kerala, K Shivashanker, was ordered by the state government to probe the incident. The police had registered a case of unnatural death but were investigating the incident.
However, there have been no further reports on the case and even the details have not been disclosed.
#4 National level gymnast and coach reported for sexual harassment (2014)
During the Asian Games in 2014, a female gymnast accused coach Manoj Rana and gymnast Chandan Pathak of sexual harassment. Allegedly, the duo made vulgar comments about her attire.
It was promised by the Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) that strict punishment would be handed out to both Pathak and Rana if they were found guilty.
However, Jiji Thompson, director general of SAI, cried conspiracy which had resulted from an internal dispute in the GFI. He indicated that the 29-year-old woman was herself at fault for going to police
"The victim never complained to us. She should have registered a complaint first with SAI. She is not a part of the Indian contingent but was practising at the stadium under the 'Come and Play' scheme. I can assure you we would have taken immediate action. But she went directly to the police. We have still launched an inquiry", he said.
He further added that no action could be taken based on media reports. As SAI launched an investigation, the duo flew off to Incheon for the Asian Games. Since then, no further reports have emerged regarding the issue.
#3 Women Hockey players accuse Chief Coach of sexual harassment (2010)
A few players of the Indian national women’s hockey team registered a formal complaint in 2010 regarding sexual harassment against the then coach Maharaj Krishnan Kaushik. Th. Ranjitha Devi sent an e-mail to Hockey India regarding the issue, thus bringing the incident to light.
Kaushik, who happens to be an Arjuna Awardee, was accused of not including players in the team for not accepting his ‘demands’. Ranjita Devi also accused him of sexual harassment towards her.
Following the complaint, Hockey India sacked the coach but a bigger job awaited Kaushik. He was soon appointed as the high-performance manager for the Central Zone in 2014. He was appointed for coaching the coaches of the academy and other state players.
It would appear as if he had nothing to do with the incident in 2010 as yet another offender escaped justice.
#2 ACA secretary demanded sexual favours for inclusion in the team (2009)
In 2009, former Team India manager and secretary of Andhra Cricket Association (ACA), V Chamundeswarnath, was accused of asking for sexual favours from the women players to get included in the team. Following the complaint, he was sacked as ACA secretary and the police booked a case in his name.
Savita Kumari, a former captain of Andhra women’s team, also lodged an official complaint with ACA, saying that Chamundeswarnath misbehaved with numerous women players during the training camps.
Durga Bhavani Maddineni, a former Ranji cricketer who had also filed a case in Chamundeswarnath’s name, allegedly committed suicide. It appeared highly suspicious that she had withdrawn her case just a few days before the incident and the entire saga was enshrouded in mystery.
Later on, the probe confirmed him as guilty and he was indicted by the Andhra Pradesh ADGP's report.
#1 Female boxer commits suicide following continuous harassment by her coach (2009)
A young boxer could not take the continuous onslaught of harassment by her coach and chose to end her life in 2009. S Amaravathi could no longer accept the numerous altercations with her coach Omkar Yadav and committed suicide inside the Lal Bahadur Stadium by consuming poison.
The 21-year-old was a junior national boxing champion and was a promising talent. In 2004, she had bagged the silver medal at the Southern India Women Boxing Championship and in 2006, she had also clinched the bronze medal at the Senior National Boxing Championship.
Following her death, an inquiry was ordered. However, the hostel authorities denied all charges and stated that she was only suffering from low self-esteem. It is surprising, though, how a medal-winning pugilist could suffer from low confidence, so much so to commit suicide.