Safe Environment For Female Athletes - Eastern Mirror
Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Editorial

Safe Environment for Female Athletes

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 02, 2024 10:58 pm

Just when women’s football is beginning to garner traction and popularity in India amid the number of players witnessing a significant increase over the years, a major controversy has hit it hard. Two female footballers from Himachal Pradesh-based Khad FC accused Deepak Sharma, the owner of the club, of physically assaulting them on March 28 when they were in Goa for the maiden season of the Indian Women’s League 2, the second division women’s football league in the country. This prompted the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to suspend Sharma, who is also an executive committee member, from taking part in football-related activities until further notice on Tuesday. The apex body also referred the case to the Disciplinary Committee, with its chief, Kalyan Chaubey, assuring to take all necessary measures to promote women’s football and ensure a safe environment. This prompt action taken by the AIFF is commendable and a step in the right direction towards building a safe environment for women sportspersons in general. It is also a welcome move after the sexual harassment controversy around former president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh dragged on for months despite wrestlers staging public protests for weeks, demanding his arrest and prosecution. He was eventually booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act after the intervention of the Supreme Court but the matter will be up for hearing again on April 23 following the cancellation report filed by the Delhi Police. Now, all eyes will be on the outcome of the court ruling on this matter. The AIFF Disciplinary Committee is also expected to take stern action against Sharma if found guilty.

To promote sports in India, particularly for women who have been consistently bringing laurels to the country by winning medals at international events including the Olympics, it is pertinent to ensure a safe environment, be it at the training centres or outside of them. This is even more important than infrastructure. The authorities should set a precedent by bringing perpetrators of sexual harassment to justice. The consequences of allowing criminals to escape punishment using political clout and other influences will be devastating for Indian sports. For instance, the Indian Women’s League, the top tier professional football league in India, has come a long way since it was established in 2016 along the lines of the Indian Super League. Its positive outcome resulted in the AIFF announcing the first season of the Indian Women’s League 2. However, failure to address the case that hit the newly launched second tier women’s football league will cost big, undoing the gains made in women’s football of late. This applies to other sports disciplines as well. To encourage more women to pursue sport professionally, punitive action should be taken against criminals without bias and on time.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 02, 2024 10:58:51 pm
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