Sexual harassment, a rights abuse

Shelly Guni

Sexual harassment and abuse are a violation of human rights that damage both individual and organizational health.

In sport it impacts athletes and other people, while the legal, financial and moral liabilities fall onto sports organizations.

These issues are inevitable in all sports and among athletes of various professional levels.

Recently, the world Football governing body, FIFA announced a ban on former ZIFA Referees Committee secretary-general Obert Zhoya over allegations of sexually abusing female referees,

FIFA, through its Independent Ethics Committee, on Friday slapped Zhoya with a five-year ban from all football-related activities.

Obert Zhoya, former secretary general of the Zifa Referees Committee, was also fined 20 000 Swiss francs ($20,400) by the ethics committee of world football’s governing body.

Fifa said in a statement that after “careful analysis of the written statements of the victims”, Zhoya had been “found guilty of abusing his position to sexually harass three female ZIFA referees”.

Fifa did not provide any details on the case but said they would reveal the reasons behind the decision within 60 days.

Below is the full release by Fifa:

“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has banned Mr Obert Zhoya, former secretary general of the Referees Committee of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) from all football-related activities for a duration of five years, after having found him guilty of abusing his position to sexually harass three female Zifa referees. In addition, the adjudicatory chamber imposed a fine amounting to CHF 20,000 on Mr Zhoya.

“Upon careful analysis of the written statements of the victims as well as the various evidence collected during the investigations conducted by the investigatory chamber, the adjudicatory chamber was comfortably satisfied that Mr Zhoya had breached art. 23 (Protection of physical and mental integrity), art. 25 (Abuse of position) and, by corollary, art. 13 (General duties) of the Code of Ethics.

“The terms of the decision were notified to Mr Zhoya today, the date on which the ban comes into force, and will be followed by notification of the grounds within the next 60 days in accordance with the Code of Ethics.

“Fifa has a strict stance against all forms of abuse in football and the Ethics Committee handles all such cases in line with the Code of Ethics, taking into account the specificity of each.

“Fifa also provides a confidential, dedicated, highly secure and web-based whistle-blowing system so that individuals can report any safeguarding concerns.”

In its role of safeguarding and improving athletes’ health, the IOC acknowledges the athletes’ right to safe and friendly sport environment.

Everyone in sport shares a responsibility to identify and prevent harassment and abuse, and to develop a culture of dignity, respect and safety.

Sport organizations are gatekeepers to safety and should demonstrate strong leadership in identifying and eradicating these practices.

A healthy sport system that empowers athletes can contribute greatly to the prevention of harassment and abuse both within and outside sport.

Zhoya’s ban came at a time when the Sports and Recreation Commission suspended the whole ZIFA board over various allegations chief amongst them issues of sexual harassment of female referees.

There is some evidence, though not nearly as clear, that there are also effects in lower division games.

Despite the well-known benefits of sport, it can also make a negative impact on victim’s heath, welfare and integrity through harassment and abuse.

Harassment and abuse often result from an abuse of authority, and can be based on any grounds including race, religion, color, creed, ethnic origin, physical attributes, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, socio-economic status and athletic ability.

Harassment and abuse can be deliberate, unsolicited and coercive. As witnessed in Zhoya’s case that the vivtims where coerced.

The alleged victims told the British newspaper, the Guardian, that she had been “humiliated, intimidated and degraded” by Zhoya.

The different types of harassment and abuse can be expressed in four forms, which may occur in combination or in isolation. These forms of abuse are defined by the IOC as follows:

Psychological abuse refers to any treatment or unwelcome act – including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation and infantilisation – that may diminish the athlete’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth.

Physical abuse refers to any deliberate and unwelcome act – such as punching, beating, kicking, biting or burning – that causes physical trauma or injury. Physical abuse can also refer to forced or inappropriate physical activity (for example, age- or physique-inappropriate training loads, training when injured or in pain), forced alcohol consumption and forced doping practices.

Sexual harassment refers to any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or that occurs when consent is coerced, manipulated or cannot be given. Sexual harassment can also take the form of sexual abuse.

Neglect refers, in this case, to the failure of a coach or another person with a duty of care to provide a minimum level of care to the athlete, in the process either causing harm, allowing others to cause harm or putting the athlete! /Official in imminent danger of harm.

The football game increased the rate of reported sexual assaults The effects are larger for national association with prominent football teams and for big games.

Like the victims, many of the offenders. The effects are also larger for cases where the offenders were unknown to the victim, despite the fact that offenders are known to the victims in the majority of sexual assaults.

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