Rachana Govil, former ED of the Sports Authority of India, Lucknow, said there needs to be more community programmes to make people aware of discriminatory behaviour against women.
“There is a lot of character assassination whenever girls speak with boys. During my playing days, the first thing my mother told me was to not protest when a guy started following me on cycle and passing comments.
“Often, there are certain abusive words which we casually throw around without knowing the implication it has on the women around. We need to have sensitisation programs regularly.”Rachana Govil
‘What if he keeps bothering you now on?’ she asked. Around 40 to 50 per cent female athletes get bullied or sexually harrassed,” Govil said during Sportstar’s North Sports Conclave in Lucknow on Thursday.
However, things have gotten a bit better, Govil says, in terms of how women have started speaking up for themselves. “With more women in sports, the male domination will reduce. We need to take a stand and things are getting better. Often, there are certain abusive words which we casually throw around without knowing the implication it has on the women around. We need to have sensitisation programs regularly.“
Asian Para Games gold medallist Ekta Bhyan said accessibility has always been a major issue for disabled sportswomen.
“It (accessibility) is a big challenge for us. Even public buildings and common places aren’t accessible for disabled people. So, people with disabilities are forced to stay home. They are considered inferior and looked at with a sympathetic eye.
We face discrimination. Even some stadiums are inaccessible for disabled sportspersons. If somebody has racing wheelchairs, they are said, they will end up destroying tracks. Swimming pools are strictly prohibited,” she said.
She added, “The awareness is not there. A lot of things are thought to be ‘part and parcel’. Many disabled people think it is normal if someone is shouting at you, but that counts as harassment as well. We don’t have many safe spaces for disabled people now.”
Commonwealth Games medallist Priyanka Goswami wishes there are sessions to educate the rural population regarding issues pertaining to women’s safety.
“People laugh when I am practising on the road and there are often people who will stare at you in stadiums. That doesn’t feel right. But I am hopeful that things will change.”
Vandana Katariya, CWG 2022 bronze medallist in hockey, said, “There is always a sense of unity in a team game. We share our problems with teammates. I haven’t faced any kind of harrassment but if we do, we shouldn’t get scared at all.”
The Hindu Sportstar North Conclave presents a series of carefully curated conversations with top sportspersons and sport industry experts on revolutionising the sports ecosystem in Uttar Pradesh. The dialogues will offer a rare insight into the lives of the sports stars and help find ways to ignite the nation’s Olympic dream.
The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, Indian Oil, Shiv Naresh, Life Insurance Corporation of India, NewsX and KSG.
Readers can follow the event live on the Sportstar website sportstar.thehindu.com.
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