Time Is Up! Stop Rape Culture in the Kenyan Sports Industry
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This past week has seen allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and gender based violence made against individual rugby players representing rugby clubs in Kenya. The allegations were made online, with the case being open to the court of public opinion.
While the many are divided as to the specifics of the case, the seriousness of the accusation cannot be stressed enough. The office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Kenya Rugby Union have both come out and stated that the case is under investigation and strongly declared that they are against any form of gender based violence and sexual harassment.
While we applaud this step, words are not enough. This is not the first time allegations of sexual and gender based violence have been made against individual players. Many other cases go unreported due to stigma, victim-blaming, lack of awareness on where and how to get assistance, and the unfortunate shortcomings of the justice system in dealing with sexual and gender based violence cases.
There have been confessions of sexual assault committed when victims are intoxicated, known cases of physical assault perpetrated against some players' girlfriends/partners, and allegations of sexual harassment of female players. While some clubs do have behavioral codes of conduct, there are no specific guidelines relating to sexual and gender based violence.
The rape culture that is ingrained in the sports industry must be dealt with accordingly. While we recognize the fact that there is no magic fix, key steps must be taken to ensure that such cases do not occur, and in the unfortunate event that they do, the perpetrators are dealt with accordingly by their clubs, the Kenya Rugby Union and the different sports unions that exist as the law takes its course. We also condemn the corporates that continue to sponsor clubs that lack proper policy guidelines that address sexual and gender based violence.
To this end, we demand for the following:
1. That the Kenya Rugby Union compels rugby clubs to establish policies for responding to abuse allegations, including independent investigative procedures and a baseline game suspension without pay for those accused of sexual assault or a similar violation.
2. That mandatory training on the set guidelines and on addressing sexual assault and domestic violence be given to players.
3. That every clubhouse includes emergency contact information that is visible and accessible to all persons at all times.
One victim is one too many. Time is up!!!!
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