Female athletes bombarded with lewd graffiti at Kanteerva stadium ladies restroom in Bengaluru

BENGALURU,Dec13: Track and field athletes who train at the Kanteerava Stadium are used to the unbearable stench emanating from restrooms, unhygienic conditions, lack of water and urinary tract infections. But what they saw on Monday in a ladies restroom at the stadium left the athletes violated and humiliated.

Obscene printed messages, pasted in four places in the restroom, asked female athletes to masturbate before practice. They were first noticed by a couple of athletes on Saturday evening. A few senior girls who saw it on Monday morning brought it to the notice of coaches and officials. A check on the other restrooms revealed that only the ladies’ restroom was targeted.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an athlete who has been training at the stadium for over a decade said: “On Monday, some of the younger athletes were seen asking others to refrain from using the restroom as there was something ‘bad’ there. I went there out of curiosity and was shocked to see the message, signed by ‘Sports Authority’. It is so disturbing and humiliating that somebody could enter the ladies’ restroom and spend time pasting those messages without being noticed.”

Recently, in a bid to check eve-teasing and theft, the department of youth empowerment and sports (DYES) had introduced identity cards for athletes and coaches, but that hasn’t stopped people from walking into the stadium without valid entry permits.

The incident has deeply shaken the athletes, some of whom are now scared to use restrooms at the the stadium.

“The thought of using those restrooms is scary. If somebody could paste the messages without being noticed, then what is the guarantee people won’t try to install spy cameras? There were no such messages in the men’s restrooms which means the female athletes are being targeted. This amounts to sexual harassment, and I hope the authorities take it seriously,” said another national athlete.

The incident has also got a few parents thinking whether it is risky to send their daughters to the stadium. Echoing the sentiments of the parents, international athlete-turned-coach Pramila Aiyappa said: “I’m shocked to know such an incident has occurred despite tight security. It’s bad that we don’t have enough female athletes. Such things will further discourage parents from allowing their children to take up sport. That said, you can’t blame the parents. I understand their concerns, because my daughter too trains with us at the stadium.”

The DYES feels it could be an insider’s job. It has warned athletes and coaches who train at the Kanteerava, and promised to enhance the security around the stadium.

“We have spoken to coaches and clubs and warned them that if anyone is found guilty they will be barred from entering the stadium. This apart, I have also spoke to stadium authorities. We will ensure a more efficient security programme,” a DYES official told news media.

“If somebody could paste messages…, what’s the guarantee people won’t try to install spy cameras?”

 – A female national athlete
“Such things will further discourage parents from allowing their children to take up sport.” saysPramila Aiyappa , athlete-turned-coach
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