NHRC notices to Ministry, SAI over woman cyclist’s allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a “detailed report” from the Union Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India (SAI) on allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” levelled by a top woman cyclist against the national sprint team chief coach during a camp in Slovenia .

The Commission which took suo motu cognisance of media reports dated June 7, 8, and 9 of the developments said that if what has been reported is true, it amounts to violation of the victim sportsperson’s human rights.

Issuing notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Director General, SAI, the Commission sought their responses in four weeks.

The “detailed report”, it said, should include the status of physical as well as mental health of the victim, action, if any, taken against the responsible officer including the coach concerned, and whether any specialised counselling has been provided to her by the authorities.

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An NHRC release on Friday said: “It is strange to know that instead of reining in the coach, the Sports Authority of India reportedly chose to bring the victim back to India thereby depriving her of training overseas for which she had been selected. The Right to Dignity of the victim has purported to have been violated, considering the fact coach and sportsperson is having fiduciary relation, where coach is reposed with the trust to look after the well being and welfare of the sportswoman”.

The Commission said it is also of the opinion that “if the allegations mentioned in the news reports are true and no action is taken by the authorities with regard to such incidents, other female sports persons will not only feel unsafe but will be reluctant to complain against perpetrators in future for fear that they may also be called back mid way during their training”.

“The subject also falls under ambit of the Sexual Harassment of Women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, which categorically defines in its Section 2(o)(iv) that work place includes any sport institute, stadium, sports complex or competition or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto. The SAI is, therefore, also under obligation to get the matter probed as per provisions of the Act”

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