Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission is keen to open a full scale investigation into sexual harassment of female athletes in the sporting industry following the alleged abuse of female football referees by some members of the Zifa Referees Committee.
The Commission’s legal and investigations department said while it has been handling a lot of sexual harassment cases, mainly from work places, it was the first time that it had received such a report from the field of sport.
It said instead of just dealing with the particular case, it was now awaiting advice from the Commissioners on whether to embark on full scale investigations as it was clear that the scourge was widespread with victims suffering in silence or being promised some incentives “because these crimes are usually committed by persons in positions of authority and influence”.
“Having received complaints on sexual harassment of female referees, we did some interviews as you know these cases are topical in terms of gender rights violation.
We receive so many of these cases from work places, but it’s the first from the area of sport.
We now want to look at it from a broader perspective, gender-based discrimination of women in sports.
If you check, most of our success as a nation in sports has come from women, your Golden Girls in hockey, Cara Black in tennis, Kirsty Coventry in swimming, the Mighty Warriors and our netball Gems yet there is always a systematic discrimination of women in sports,” said Tinashe Mazani, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission legal and investigations manager.
He said now that discrimination and harassment reports in sports were beginning to come, there was a need to prioritise the issue and get to the bottom of the matter.
“We are guided by our investigations manual.
After receiving a report, we study it, carry out investigations like in this particular matter of our referees.
A report is then presented to our Commissioners, who will give us directions on whether we proceed with full scale investigations where we will say there is clearly a problem in the area of sport.
What we will then do is to publish a notice in the Government Gazette in terms of Section 5 of our Zimbabwe Gender Commission Act where we will invite any person who has been a victim to come forward,” said Mazani.
Mazani said they are almost done with preliminary investigations on the harassment of female referees and will soon be presenting a report to the Commissioners, who will sugges the way forward.