Vinesh Phogat Accuses WFI Chief Of Sexual Harassment; Wrestling Olympians Stage Protest
New Delhi: Olympians Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik have accused Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president Brij Bhushan Sharma and coaches of sexual harassment.
“Women wrestlers have been sexually harassed at national camps by coaches and also the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Sharma. Some of the coaches appointed at national camps have been sexually harassing women wrestlers for years. The WFI president is also involved in sexual harassment,” The Indian Express quoted Vinesh as saying on Wednesday.
“Many young women wrestlers have complained to me and cried about being sexually harassed at national camps. At least 20 girls I know who have been sexually harassed at the national camp,” the Asian Games and three-time Commonwealth Games gold-medallist stated.
“Today I have said this, I don’t know if I will be alive tomorrow. People in WFI are very powerful,” Vinesh added.
Olympic medallists Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia joined the likes of Vinesh, Sangeeta Phogat, Sonam Malik and Anshu in a protest at Jantar Mantar against WFI’s high-handed way of functioning.
“We are here to raise the issue of wrestlers who have no voice when it comes to decision making. Wrestler have suffered for long silently but now we have decided that we won’t stay quiet anymore against unilateral decisions being taken by Wrestling Federation of India. All of India’s top wrestlers won’t participate in national or international meets till our demands are met and we are treated better… Wrestlers here have a request to the prime minister’s office and the home minister’s office to help us and help the sport,” Bajrang told Indian Express.
Vinesh claimed that she has been trying to talk to the federation about their issues but to no avail.
“I’ve been wanting to talk and make them understand my issues and those of other wrestlers for nearly 10 years. But nobody is even ready to listen,” Sakshi said.
Responding to the allegations, WFI president Brij Bhushan sounded defiant.
“Is anyone saying that the WFI has sexually harassed a wrestler? Only Vinesh has said it. Has anyone come forward and said that they personally have been sexually harassed? He said, adding, “Even if one wrestler comes forward and says that she has been sexually harassed, that day I can be hanged.”