Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had urged the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to get to the bottom of all pending sexual harassment complaints in the next four weeks to send out a message of zero tolerance towards the crime. In an earlier report by the Indian Express, no action had been taken in around 45 cases of harassment that had been reported from 24 SAI centres in India in the last 10 years.
“There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment on SAI campuses. The inquiries that are underway will be speeded up. I have directed that all pending cases will be disposed within the next four weeks,” Rijiju said in a statement.
“We will ensure that the already existing system of addressing sexual harassment cases and protecting our athletes, both boys and girls, is made more robust.
“Athletes spend their formative years at SAI centres and it is our foremost responsibility to give them safe environment in which to live and train,” he added.
SAI admitted that the punishments for such a menace needed to be stricter to make the centres a safe place for budding women sports stars, but refused to accept that harassment was rampant.
However, a top official in SAI, conceded that the punishments needed to be stricter. Currently, the harassers only get a pay cut or a transfer, with the suspension or ban not being tight as it should be.
As per SAI, it had received 35 complaints of sexual harassment from 2011 to 2019, of which the harassers were penalized in 13 cases and inquiry is in progress in 15 cases. Three had been falsely accused, wHILE two had been acquitted by the court. One had committed suicide, with the complaint against one accused had been withdrawn.
Of these 35 cases, 27 were against coaches, while eight came against officials working in SAI centres.