Harassment of coach Santhi: notice sent to magazine, sports official

The South Regional Representative to the National Council for Transgender Persons (NCTP), a statutory authority under the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Gopi Shankar, based in Madurai, has taken suo moto cognizance of continuous harassment of athlete and coach Santhi Soundarajan on the grounds of her gender identity/ expression by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDATN) coach Abraham Rajan.

Gopi Shankar has issued a notice to the publisher of the Tamil magazine Kumudam in connection with a ‘defamatory’ story recently published in the magazine against Santhi Soundarajan and raising ‘false allegations’ concerning her gender identity. A notice has been issued separately to the Member Secretary, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu urging the body to take departmental action against coach Abraham Rajan for making ‘false comments and complaints’ against the gender identity of Santhi.

In the notice issued to the Tamil magazine, Gopi Shankar sought an apology from the Kumudam publishing house for publishing ‘false allegations’ in the form of an article that had appeared in the magazine without knowing Santhi’s side of the story.

The rights of Santhi are protected under the Constitution of India and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the notice further said and wanted the magazine to publish an interview of Santhi so that a clear story could be reached to the readers.

Gopi Shankar said that formal proceedings would be initiated against the publishing group if it did not take any action concerning the ‘defamatory’ article which was published. Gopi Shankar in the notice to the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu said formal proceedings would be initiated against Abraham Rajan in case the department did not take any action on him.

Gopi Shankar said over phone on Wednesday that the notices were issued a few days ago in the wake of continuous harassment of Santhi. The Commission had received an on-record complaint from Santhi recently in this regard.

‘We are not treating this as an isolated case but seeing this as an attack on female athletes with diverse sex characteristics,’ said Gopi Shankar. The Commission would look into workplace inclusive policies in government institutions with respect to LGBT community and how the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 is being implemented in Tamil Nadu.

Santhi, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste community and a native of Pudukottai district, had filed separate harassment complaints earlier with the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes, National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women, said Gopi Shankar.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 9:37:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/sports/article37197906.ece

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