NHRC seeks reports from govt, SAI on cyclist sex abuse cry
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday sought reports from the Union ministry of sports and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) over allegations by an Indian woman cyclist of inappropriate behaviour by her male coach during a recent camp in Slovenia.
Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the commission has observed that the content of the report, if true, amounts to human rights violation.
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the secretary in the Union ministry of youth affairs and sports and the director-general of SAI, calling for a detailed report within four weeks. The report should include the physical and mental status of the victim as well as action, if any, taken against the person concerned. The commission also wants to know whether any specialised counselling has been provided to the victim.
The commission observed that it found it strange that instead of reining in the coach, the SAI reportedly chose to bring the victim back to India and deprived her of training overseas for which she had been selected. The right to dignity of the victim has purportedly been violated, considering the fact that the coach and the sportsperson has a fiduciary relation where the former is reposed with the trust to look after the well-being and welfare of the latter, the NHRC observed.
“The commission is also of the opinion that if the allegations mentioned in the news report are true and no action is taken by the authorities with regard to such incidents, other female sports persons will not only feel unsafe but will be reluctant to complain against perpetrators in future for fear that they may also be called back midway during their training.
“The subject also falls under ambit of the Sexual Harassment of Women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, which categorically defines in its Section 2(o)(iv) that work place includes any sport institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto. The SAI is, therefore, also under obligation to get the matter probed as per provisions of the Act,” the NHRC said in a statement.
According to media reports, the female cyclist was part of the Indian team that was in Slovenia to prepare for the Asian Championship scheduled to be held in New Delhi from June 18 to 22. The coach allegedly tried to forcefully pull the victim towards him, asked her to sleep with him and threatened to destroy her career if she did not agree to his demands.
Unable to tolerate the sexual advances made by the coach, the victim spoke to the CEO of Target Olympic Podium Scheme, who booked her return ticket for June 3.
The victim has, in her complaint, mentioned that the coach has destroyed her mentally and emotionally, which is now impacting her sporting performance. She has reportedly sought strictest possible action against the coach to not only ensure her safety but also the safety of other female athletes.