During a regular Monday morning, female athletes at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru had to deal with an alarming situation when one of them discovered an obscene message pasted on the wall, apparently by the sports authority.
The message seemed to be random, direct and absolutely disturbing as the first line read, “This is to inform you that, please do masturbating before practice…”. The message was so disturbing that the female athletes were forced to call upon Times Of India reporter Manuja Veerappa for help.
According to Manuja, these messages are part of a larger issue.
“Female athletes suffer a lot. I had reported before on a male athlete who was a peeping Tom,” she said
After inspecting the rest of the washrooms in the stadium, it was confirmed that only the ladies washroom was targeted by the “culprit”. In order to prevent and check “eve-teasing”, the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) had only recently installed ID cards for coaches and athletes.
Investigations have begun regarding the case and according to The News Minute, it is most likely an insider’s job. TOI suggest that the athletes were so traumatized, that they had fear of being filmed without their consent.
Pramila Aiyappa, an international athlete turned coach, voiced her concern over the issue of such a behaviour despite tight security and also touched upon the fact that parents may feel discouraged to send their girls to the stadium as a result of such cases.
Nisha Millet, Arjuna Award winner and the only woman in the Indian swimming team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said that the security at the stadium was extremely lax.
"The new security measure where persons who do not have athlete cards or ID cards cannot enter the stadium started after an incident that I had reported a while back. My bag and wallet were stolen. I ran all around the stadium and none of the ten guards knew or saw anyone. The security guards are always out for tea or are sleeping. It obviously becomes easy for someone to enter the stadium. I haven't run there in ages after the incident," she said.
She also talked about how woman athletes have to be alert of their surroundings most of the time.
"These kind of instances do not happen abroad. The conditions for women are terrible. Kanteerava stadium has CCTV cameras but none of them works or they would have been able to identify who did this. At least security cameras in common areas have to be kept up to date. Also, the administration does not take responsibility or are not held accountable ever," she added.
Ashwini Nachappa, President of Bangalore Districts Athletics Association, said that the conditions at the Kanteerava Stadium could not get any worse.
"It is obviously some pervert who has done such a thing. Such instances should not be given any importance as more people will be encouraged. The posters must be torn and thrown away and the athletes must be counselled. Athletes have to be taught to be well prepared and how to take care of themselves.
“What they need is adequate comfort, security, motivation and facilities, which are not being taken care of adequately. They need guidance and counselling in handling such issues. It is not just for girls but also for the boys," she stated.