BELIAWANIS MCA would like to propose a whistleblower hotline to be helmed by either the Youth and Sports Ministry or the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry for athletes to lodge a complaint if their grievances within their respective sports bodies have not been addressed adequately, were summarily dismissed, or completely ignored.
This whistleblower hotline must assure athletes who are subject to sexual abuse or bullying by their coaches, managers, physicians or physiotherapists of full confidentiality when filing their reports. It should also assist the athlete in lodging a police report.
This proposal follows the sharing by Olympic silver medallist Datuk Pandelela Rinong about being bullied after she chastised her coach for making lewd jokes. It takes heaps of emotional nerve and steel to come out openly with such revelations which will subject the individual to public scrutiny.
The diver’s revelation brings to mind the case of US national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar who had been sentenced to at least 25 years up to 175 years for sexual assault, sexual misconduct, etc on many of his sports charges, many of whom were minors at the time of the offences.
We cannot allow similar sexual offences particularly against underage athletes to occur in Malaysia or anywhere in the world.
Additionally, any sportsperson who has been a victim of sexual violence or bullying by persons in authority in their respective sport are also welcome to approach the Legal Advisory and Women’s Aid Centre (Lawa) by Wanita MCA for legal advice and counselling. Lawa is contactable at 03-2716 5943
Safety & integrity above medals
Meanwhile, Beliawanis MCA supports the position of Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who, in response to Pandelela’ revelation, affirmed that athletes’ safety from physical and mental abuse should take priority over winning medals “all day, every day”.
While Malaysia strives for excellence in the sports arena, we must never allow predatory coaches to prey sexually on minors or even adults under their care. Indeed, the security of athletes away from physical, sexual and emotional abuse must take precedence over the pursuit of winning medals or setting sports records.
In the process, the integrity of the sports profession in Malaysia is maintained.
It is hoped that as society matures, respecting an individual’s body and not treating lightly rape humour or issues involving sexual abuse in any form will be upheld.
IVONE LOW YI WEN , Beliawanis MCA Chairperson