New Delhi: The sex scandals that have rocked
hockey and weightlifting are "scary and shameful", says Khel
Ratna awardee woman boxer M C Mary Kom, who feels male coaches
should be kept away from female athletes at all times other
Speaking to reporters, the 25-year-old four-time world champion
said although she has never encountered sexual harassment in
her sporting career, it remains an everyday reality for all
the women in the country.
"Whatever has happened in hockey is shameful and scary.
When I first read about it, I was shaken. This was unexpected
and the thought which scares me most is that it might be
happening in every sport including my own," the pin weight 46
kg boxer from Manipur said.
"It`s just not sports, sexual harassment is a harsh
everyday reality for any woman in India. Girls should be
protected. Female athletes should be made to feel safe in
camps and training areas," she added.
Mary Kom said having women coaches at the helm can help
but she has no issues with men either provided safeguards are
in place to prevent harassment and exploitation.
"Ideally, women should be chief coaches when it comes to
women`s sports but I don`t mind male coaches either as long as
there is no problem," the mother of two said.
"I feel male coaches and female athletes should not mix
beyond the training time. Male coaches should be lodged in
separate hotels when they are with a women`s team. In camps,
they should be staying away from stadiums where women are
lodged. This can surely help in preventing such disgraceful
episodes," she suggested.
Mary Kom was among the boxers who in 2002 refused to
train at a camp in Hisar after an intruder misbehaved with one
of the campers and she said the incident highlights the
threats a woman athlete faces.
"Safety comes first. Unless we feel secure, we can`t be
expected to give our 100 per cent. That was a scary incident
and we put our foot down demanding security and we managed to
get it," she recalled.
The diminutive boxer said federations should act quickly
and fairly while dealing with incidents of sexual harassment
as such episodes don`t just scar the victim but her teammates
"As a woman athlete, I felt ashamed when I first heard of
the scandal in hockey and weightlifting. That`s the impact
such an episode has. It doesn`t just kill the morale of the
victim but also the other members of the team," she said.
"That is why, it is important that the Federations do
their job and act promptly. They should ensure that the victim
is not traumatised and justice is done quickly," she added.