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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 5, January 21 & January 28, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Jan 21 & Jan 28, 2023

Saturday 21 January 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Jan 21 & 28, 2023

The Message from Women Wrestlers Fighting Sexual Harassment is Get up and Stand up for your rights!

The past few days in Delhi saw an unusual protest over sexual harassment led by women wrestlers of India of national and international acclaim, many of them gold medalists with considerable popular appeal. The wrestlers’ protest was against Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and BJP MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh and several coaches over alleged sexual exploitation and intimidation of female grapplers. That the protest happened at Jantar Mantar the well-known site of anti-government protests in Delhi gave it huge significance and a media spotlight. The protest was joined by nearly two hundred wrestlers and got widespread support from prominent sportswomen from all kinds of disciplines. The Government and the Sports Ministry dragged their feet in taking immediate action against the BJP MP cum three-term chair of the Wrestling Federation of India given his political clout in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The sportspersons finally withdrew their sit-in on Jan 20, 2023 after the WFI chief agreed to step down pending an inquiry. Let us hope there will be no cover-ups and a thorough investigation happens and these sexist pricks are shown the door and punished. Misogyny rules the place in all spheres of our society and it is against huge odds that women from very conventional rural societies and from poor backgrounds have managed to enter many disciplines in sports over the past decade. Many of these sportswomen have become role models and have provided encouragement to other women to join sports in many male-dominated domains. The unusual protest by women Wrestlers in January 2023 also sends a message as to the way ahead to Get up and Stand up for your rights. Every now and then we discover instances of sexual harassment against sportswomen, as was the case in cycling in mid-2022 or in 2021 in Athletics in Tamil Nadu. Sports officials must act against all accused of sexual misconduct and misuse of power and authority to hush up these instances. This will only happen if there are organisations of sportswomen to give them a collective voice against sexism & to demand equal rights, benefits, and fair treatment in sports and keep up the pressure on the managers and gatekeepers in sports.

January 21, 2023 - HK

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