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Disrespect & Disgrace

"If you are not strong from inside, you can never look beautiful from outside," Geeta Phogat had once said.


It’s a known fact that in today’s times, male sports are given more respect and importance than female sports. We, as women, will take the back seat while you watch Virat Kohli bat yet another sixer and Neeraj Chopra throw another javelin miles away- but disrespect and humiliation? Those are two things that we will not take.


On the 19th of January, 2023 Olympic medal-winning Indian wrestlers accused the chief of the sport’s governing body and several other coaches of sexually harassing multiple female athletes. The wrestlers, led by Sakshi Malik, Olympic bronze winner, and Bajrang Punia, one of India’s top male wrestlers, began protesting in New Delhi after condemning the Wrestling Federation of India President Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexual harassment.


It was an unusual and untypical sight: India’s top wrestlers, who have won medals at world championships and the Olympics, protesting on the streets of New Delhi - the national capital, demanding the resignation of the powerful wrestling federation chief over sexual harassment allegations.





Vinesh Phogat, a gold winner at the Women’s Commonwealth Games, said many wrestlers were scared and intimidated from coming forward. She said, ‘They are scared because of their family background. They can’t fight them because they are powerful.’


Sakshi Malik, Geeta Phogat, and Bajrang Punia said they would not participate in tournaments till adequate action was taken and the wrestling federation was disbanded. Sakhi Malik said, “The whole of the federation should be removed so that the future of new wrestlers is safe. A new federation should come into existence.”





Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted - ‘Our players are the pride of the country. They bring laurels to the country through their performance at the world level. The players have made serious allegations of exploitation against the Wrestling Federation and its president and their voices should be heard.’


Is this the reward that women athletes in our country get? Is this what their honor looks like? Being sexually harassed by their own coaches?


Their protests worked, and on Friday, January 20th, Brij Bhushan Singh, President of the Wrestling Federation of India and a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Uttar Pradesh, had to step down as the government set up a committee to probe the accusations.


***


To all the female athletes reading this: fight. You deserve respect. Fight. You deserve the honor. No one can wrestle like you can. No one can run the way you can. There will be people who will disrespect and humiliate you, but always remember that for every violator, 100 little girls look up to you.



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