Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How do you define sexual harassment in sports?

The Court of Appeal released out Ramanathan (former athletics coach) yesterday after he had served 10 months in Kajang Prison. He get one-third remission for good behaviour, however will lose his pension - as reported by NST, 22 Sep, p. 8. In his statement after the release " It was only a sports massage. I have been successful with athletes as this was part of the preparation to keep them injury-free".

Do general institutional sexual harassment law/policies applicable to sporting activities?

Section 509 of the Penal Code is the only section protecting the modesty of a person, thus restraining the element of sexual harassment from occurrence. It stated that ‘whoever intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any word, makes any gestures or exhibits any object, intending that such words or sound shall be heard, or that such gestures or objects shall be seen by such person as intruding upon the privacy of such person shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine, or with both’. 

The legal concept of sexual harassment is far from clear. Based on the second limb of the section, it is obvious that the victim will not report a problem unless they perceive the behavior as offensive. The wording of section 509 of the Penal Code is so general and not referring to workplace only. However, the nature of sporting activities and relationship between coach-athlete creates unique and different environments. The physical nature of sports that involves bodily contact is entirely accepted. For example stretching and massaging or rubbing stiff muscles are totally unaccepted in the school or workplace but common for athletes.

What say you?