sexual harassment and abuse in sport

What is gender harassment?

 - Gender harassment means unwelcome behaviour related to someone’s gender (male or female) and that has the effect or purpose of offending personal dignity
 - One example may be where one person treats someone of the other gender in a humiliating way through words or actions

How does gender harassment affect your performance?

 - Gender harassment affects team cohesion which, if disrupted, can impact on performance
 - Because it negatively affects athletes’ well being it can ultimately lead to impaired performance and early sport drop-out

How does gender harassment affect your health?

 - Gender harassment negatively affects the psychological health of the athlete potentially resulting in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and self harm practices

Case study « Maria »
Maria is an 18 year old rower.  She has recently achieved her ambition to be selected for the National team which will attend the Olympic Games qualifying event.  Maria is a gifted athlete with tremendous potential and is well respected in her sport. Maria lives with her parents and 5 older brothers.

While at the Olympic Qualifier, Giani, the team manager has put Maria in charge of bringing the team’s bag lunches from the hotel to the rowing venue.  On the first day of training while rowing, Georgio her coach yells across the water to her: “Hey babe - faster, faster! You can do it sweetie!” 

The training session leaves the team physically exhausted. While they are leaving the rowing basin, one of the men’s team forces Maria to carry his bag back to the hotel. Subsequently, while recovering from training, at the team hotel, Maria gets a telephone call from Giani, the team manager.  “Ciao Bella – The men’s team need their laundry done. Do mine at the same time. We need it tonight before tomorrow’s practice.” 



What could help Maria?

- Knowing that she has a right to be protected
- Knowing that it is not her fault
- Knowing that she is not alone and that there are people to listen to her/ask for help
- Talking to an adult who she trusts (options are: welfare officer, team doctor, team chaperone, nurse, parent, older sibling, friend or teacher)
- Using a helpline

What could Maria’s teammates do if they are worried about her?
 - Tell an adult that they trust about their concerns
 - Seek help for their own feelings
 - Challenge inappropriate behaviour by their teammates

What can you do to protect yourself from gender harassment in sport?

 - Understand your rights and responsibilities
 - Follow your organisation’s procedures if there are any
 - Avoid using gender stereotypes yourself
 - Know what to do to prevent and report concerns
 - Look out for each other
 - Challenge inappropriate behaviour by others that is based on gender stereotypes
 - Share your concerns with someone else