New Delhi [India], Jan 17 : Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Friday said that ‘there is zero-tolerance for sexual harassment in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campuses.’
“There is zero tolerance for sexual harassment on the 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,” said Rijiju in a statement.
As per the records available with SAI, between 2011 and 2019, 35 cases of sexual harassment have been received at various SAI centres, out of which 27 are from the trainees against their coaches.
So far, the penalty has been imposed on 14 people, who have been found guilty, and inquiry is under progress in 15 cases. In rest of the cases, the accused were either acquitted by the concerned court or the offence could not be established.
“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. It is our foremost responsibility to give them a safe environment to live and train,” he added.
All sexual harassment complaints against minors are dealt under the provision of Protection of Children from Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act, 2012 and others under the provision of Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
The SAI provides training to more than 15,000 sportspersons in different age groups every year. During the last two Khelo India Games held at New Delhi in 2018 and Pune 2019, more than 10,000 sportspersons in different sport disciplines participated. In effect, during the last decade, SAI has had under its aegis, more than 1.5 lakh athletes in various Sports disciplines with the athletes in the age range of 13-25 years.
To ensure that athletes have a safe environment to live, study and train, the SAI has a strong system in place to prevent and redress cases of sexual harassment on SAI campuses. There is an Internal Complaint Committee in place at each of the SAI Regional Centres and academic institutions with a senior lady officer as the chairperson of the committee.
To sensitise athletes about issues of sexual harassment and to strengthen them to come forward and register complaints, workshops in local languages are conducted in every region on a regular basis.
A call centre is also operational since April 2019 through which trainees can lodge their grievances directly. During December 2019, more than 350 calls were received by the call centre from trainees on various issues that are being faced by them.
The complaint thus received is immediately taken up for redressal. A follow up action is also being carried out by the call centre to ensure that grievances registered are settled and not repeated. In addition, 1550 athletes were contacted during December 2019 by the call centre among the trainees undergoing training in various SAI centres across the country.
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