45 sexual harassment complaints at 24 SAI units: Report

45 sexual harassment complaints reported at 24 SAI centres: Report

Representative image. (Photo/Pixabay)

At least 45 complaints of sexual harassment were reported at 24 different government-run Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres across India over the last decade, according to a report by The Indian Express. 

Nearly 65 per cent (or 29) of these complaints were against coaches, the data obtained through RTI and official reports showed. 

While investigations into almost a dozen complaints have dragged on for years without any resolution, in several other cases the accused have been 'let off leniently' with punishments ranging from transfers to a small cut in pay or pension. 

DH independently could not verify the report.

"The number (of complaints) could be higher as, many times, cases against coaches also might have gone unreported," noted a parliamentary committee on the empowerment of women in a report. 

The athletes often withdraw their complaints or change their statements, fearing their careers would be impacted, which makes it difficult for them to take action, SAI's former director-general, Jiji Thomson, told the publication.

"Most of these girls come from humble backgrounds. So they are persuaded or pressurised to change their statement or take back their complaints," Thomson said, adding that for many their future in sports, which is a way out of poverty, is in the hands of the coaches. 

According to the report, the cases reported at SAI centres range from molestation to physical abuse, in sports such as gymnastics, athletics, weightlifting, boxing and wrestling. 

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