Women in sport tackle the battering of their own

16 Sep 2019


With a spike in ‘Gender based violence’ (GBV), the community in sport is taking a stand in giving a helping hand to society to eliminate it.

Anita Defrantz, Chairwoman of the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission and IOC member at the 57th session of the Commission on the status of women said sport has an important role to play in preventing violence against women and girls.

“There is no single solution to the pervasive problem of gender-based violence. Eliminating and preventing violence against women and girls will require deploying all available assets, including sport. It will require more cooperation and partnerships among individuals and organisations with a commitment to this cause,” she observed.

She said it will require assistance from governments and educational institutions.

“While being mindful of the many challenges that women face to access sport and to eradicate gender-based violence in sport, the International Olympic Committee is committed to this effort and will continue to work within sport, and with partners outside sport, to promote the cause of gender equality and eliminate sexual harassment, abuse and violence.Together, we can make a difference and provide a brighter future for our daughters, granddaughters and generations to come” said Defrantz.

An African basketball star shot and paralyzed in a domestic violence incident, Malebogo ‘Max’ Molefhe said sports is one of the biggest universal languages that most people understand and effortlessly bring them together in a diverse way.

“It is exciting and intriguing. It is often the only place where someone is judged for their talent other than their sexual orientation,” she said.

With that said, using sporting platforms as a pedestal to reach out and address GBV is the best bet to getting the message across and increase knowledge as well as raise awareness in ending GBV amongst our communities. She went on to say it is sometimes difficult to draw the nation to activities or events that are designed to address violence but since everyone loves sports it becomes easier to utilize such opportunities to speak out against violence and take advantage of the crowd especially that men are the biggest lovers of sports.

“We cannot deny the fact that men are major perpetrators of violence and they too should not be left behind in involving them to holistically address GBV and to sensitize them as well. Community outreaches that are in the form of sports will forever reach a wide range of audiences hence helping in addressing the escalating rate of violence that we continue to record in Botswana. It is imperative to use all opportunities available to us to aim for zero tolerance towards Gender based Violence,” Molefhe said.

She however noted that organizations and companies are now coming out to host major sporting activities such as marathons and walks like ‘The Mascom Batanani Walk’. With the involvement of activists such as her to the scene is an incredible way of committing the nation to act and be included in ending violence on women and children.

For local journalist and sport analyst, Citie Keagokwa, GBV is a social ill that should be addressed at family and community level.

Even so, sport can play a critical role in engaging young boys and girls in sport as a tool to harness, build and raise awareness to sensitize them against acts of gender based violence.

“The youth are the next parents and leaders of any society in any country, the youth participate in sport at one stage of their lives and sport can be used as a medium to build them into responsible adults. And the continuous engagement with each other can help to accept and appreciate one another better,” he said.

He furthermore stated that it can be used as a medium to campaign and educate the public on the dangers of GBV.

Most men and boys often follow or partake in sport, in this way he said integrating sport and anti gender based violence programs and organizations can play a critical role to fight the increasingly growing monster in our communities. With sport people being influential, they can use their status and power to shift public behaviours positively.

Dorothy Okach, FIBA basketball umpire in her stand said, sports on its own builds self confidence of females drastically.

“It instils in them self love and she stands as a pardon to this. Highlighting that it is a necessary element when it comes to females standing up for them and avoiding such situations. In addition, she said more focus should not only be paid on the sport itself but should have elements of self confidence, independence and assertiveness. It is a tool to tech ladies how to protect themselves,” she said.

“Tournaments can be held that have a theme of standing against GBV. In such tournaments information will be given on stats, how to prevent it, and a plea to males in attendance to ensure that they do not become perpetrators of GBV. Not only tournaments during the 16 days of activism, but year round and even on dates such as valentine’s day,” Okach said.