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NHRC issues notice to Sports Ministry, SAI over alleged exploitation of woman cyclist

The Commission observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to human rights violation of the victim sportsperson.

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New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday issued notice to Secretary, Union Sports Ministry and Director General, Sports Authority of India over alleged exploitation of a top Indian woman cyclist by the chief coach during training in Slovenia.

The Commission has called a detailed report in the matter. It should include the status of physical and mental health of the victim as well as action, if any, taken against the responsible officer including the coach concerned, within 4 weeks, NHRC in a statement said.

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The Commission took a suo motu cognizance of a media report that a top Indian woman cyclist has accused the national sprint team chief coach of inappropriate behaviour during a camp in Slovenia and sent an email complaint to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in this regard, the statement said.

The Commission observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to human rights violation of the victim sportsperson.

According to the media reports, carried three days on June 7, 8 and 9, the woman victim was part of the Indian team that was in Slovenia to prepare for the Asian Championship, which is scheduled to be held in New Delhi from June 18-22. Allegedly the coach forcefully tried pulling her towards him and asked her to come and sleep with him and threatened to destroy her career, if not conceded to his demands. The coach and the rest of the Indian victims are expected to return to India on June 14, the statement said.

It is strange to know that instead of reining in the coach, the SAI 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 statement said.

The Commission 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.

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