Indian lady wrestlers push for reforms after sexual harassment by top officials

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The Indian women wrestlers and their families are demanding reforms in response to accusations of sexual harassment by a top sports administrator, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is the chief of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and an influential lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party.

The delay in taking action against Singh led to protests by top wrestlers, who threatened to throw their medals into the Ganges River. The wrestlers accused Singh of groping young women during tournaments. Singh has denied the charges, and the case is now before the judiciary. If convicted, he could face up to three years in jail.

The wrestlers and their families are pressing for reforms in the wrestling system. They want women appointed at all levels of training and within the wrestling federation, as well as other sporting bodies. They believe that having more women in leadership positions will help create a safer and more secure environment for female wrestlers.

Additionally, some parents are calling for the government to establish an official group of guardians who would accompany women contestants to events such as training camps and international tournaments. This measure aims to provide further protection and ensure the safety of female wrestlers.

The absence of women administrators at senior levels within the Wrestling Federation of India and other sporting bodies has been acknowledged by officials. The Sport and Rights Alliance, a global coalition promoting human rights in sports, has called for a transparent and impartial investigation into the accusations.

The Indian Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur, has stated that they are working to address the concerns raised by the female wrestlers and ensure their protection.

Despite the challenges, the wrestlers and their families remain determined to continue pursuing the sport and are focusing on the upcoming WFI elections in July as an opportunity to bring about the desired reforms.

The situation has highlighted the need for a cultural shift within the sports community in India to ensure the safety and well-being of female athletes. The wrestlers and their supporters are hopeful that their voices will bring about positive change and create a more inclusive and secure environment for women in wrestling.

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