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Indian Wrestlers’ Protests-WFI

Indian Wrestlers’ Protests: some sportspersons made allegations of sexual harassment against WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) president Brij Bhushan...

Recently, some sportspersons made allegations of sexual harassment against WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

Context: The Union Sports Minister announced that six-time World champion and Olympic medallist boxer M.C. Mary Kom would head a government-appointed five-member Oversight Committee to investigate the charges levelled by some prominent wrestlers against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

  • Objectives of oversight committee:  It will investigate the serious charges levelled by the wrestlers and will submit its report within a month. Till then the committee will carry out the WFI’s day-to-day work.
  • The panel will probe the allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and intimidation, financial irregularities, and administrative lapses.
Issues faced by women in sports
  • Gender Pay disparity: Female athletes have to face is being paid half or less of what is given to their male counterparts.
  • Being objectified:  Women are looked at as commodities showcasing themselves for men’s pleasure, not as entities of potential and talent.
    • Eg: India’s popular badminton player Jwala Gutta faced issues related to objectification and body shaming.
  • Lack of access to facilities
  • Safety and transportation issues
    • Eg: Manipur is a sporting powerhouse, but 48 % of female athletes travel over 10km to reach the practice facility
  • Social stigma: Female experience bullying, social isolation, and negative performance evaluations.
  • Mental Health:  Institutes and coaches must provide access to sports psychologists. According to the IOC Mental Health in Elite Athletes Toolkit(2021), anxiety and depression are more common in women athletes.
  • The disparity in Access to Quality Training & Infrastructure
  • Inadequate Budget Allocated for Women in Sports.
  • Sexual harassment in sports lowers self-esteem and limits the ability of women
  • It compromises the professional integrity of the coach and the educational mission of athletics.
  • It Weaken the mission of sports organizations and educational institutions to provide leadership and resources for improving the physical, mental and emotional well-being of all females through sports and fitness participation.
  • Incident of sexual harassment in sports discouraging parents to send their daughters in stadium.
  • The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has issued guidelines to the National Sports Federation of India (NSFOI) Women coach is mandatory with female athletes during domestic or international travels.
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed in 2013.
    •  It defines sexual harassment, lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken. 
    • It broadens the Vishaka guidelines, which were already in place.
  • Vishaka guidelines
  • Women employees can take legal steps under the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.
  • SHe-Box: The Ministry of Women & Child Development launched the Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box) to provide single window access to facilitate the registration of complaint related to sexual harassment.
  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) has asked all States to ensure strict implementation of the sexual harassment at workplace law by coaching centres and educational institutes.
Way forward
  1. The need of the hour is to formulate an effective legal process that needs to be followed in cases of harassment of women sportspersons.

2. Committees against sexual harassment must be constituted at all sports’ departments, federations and government sports bodies right till the highest levels.

3.If due processes are not followed, the authorities must be held accountable.

4.It is incumbent on people of this country to show solidarity towards sports women in their tough fight.

Read Also: POCSO Act

Indian Wrestlers’ Protests,Indian Wrestlers’ Protests

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