Athlete Santhi files harassment complaint

Alleges that colleague made fun of her gender and passed casteist remarks

Updated - September 07, 2018 08:03 am IST

Published - September 07, 2018 12:52 am IST - CHENNAI

Santhi Soundarajan

Santhi Soundarajan

Santhi Soundarajan, a recipient of several medals in multiple international sporting events, including the South Asian Games, who has been working as a coach in the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDATN), filed a harassment complaint against a male colleague on Thursday.

She alleged that the colleague made casteist remarks and had been making fun of her ‘gender.’

The athlete belongs to a Scheduled Caste community.

Sources close to her told The Hindu that the “influential” male colleague, who she said has allegedly been targeting her since her early teens, was also the reason behind her transfer to a desk job earlier this week.

Ms. Santhi was transferred as Coach (Athletics) from Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here and posted as a coach in the Sports Facilitation Centre, where she would not be able to coach budding athletes residing in the sports hostel.

In her complaint to a top official ofthe SDATN, she alleged that her colleague had been continuously making casteist remarks against her in office and spreading rumours about her gender, saying she was not a woman and did not look like one.

Snide references

“During her absence, the male coach has been asking students where ‘Mr’ Santhi was. There have been occasions when he openly asked why she was coming out of the women’s washroom and not men’s, humiliating her,” acquaintances of Ms Santhi claimed.

Intersex activist Gopi Shankar Madurai, who also works on UN Mechanisms Asian Region, ILGA Geneva, has been assisting her in her struggles.

“Ms. Santhi is thankful to the government for all the support (in getting a job as a coach) but her colleague has been harassing her on caste and gender lines.

“This is sexual harassment. We will stand by her and ensure that she gets justice. We will move the National Commission for Scheduled Castes,” he said.

When The Hindu sought a response, SDATN Member Secretary Reeta Harish Thakkar said: “She met me and has given a complaint only today. I asked her why she has not raised this issue earlier. I will ensure an enquiry into the matter.”

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