Four obscene printed messages, signed by the "sports authority", popped up in four places inside the women's bathroom in Bengaluru's Kanteerava Stadium, according to media reports. The messages, that has left the women athletes shocked and humiliated, asked them to masturbate before practice.
"Please do fingering..." read a part of the message that the New Minute published after blurring.
An athlete told the Times of India on conditions of anonymity that the younger athletes who spotted the messages first, warned the others not to go in. "I went there out of curiosity and was shocked to see the message, signed by 'Sports Authority'. It is so disturbing and humiliating that somebody could enter the ladies' restroom and spend time pasting those messages without being noticed," she said.
Needless to add that only the women's washroom was targeted and there were no similar messages pasted on the men's bathrooms. In a culture that still allows rampant misogyny, women athletes have faced harassment in the past.
In May last year, a 15-year-old athlete committed suicide, alleging harassment by seniors. Three other women athletes, undergoing training at Sports Centre of Sports Authority's water sports centre at Vembanad lake, Alappuzha, Kerala were hospitalised, after they ate a poisonous fruit in an apparent suicide pact. In 2014, during the Asian Games, gymnastics coach Manoj Rana and gymnast Chandan Pathak were booked for allegedly sexually harassing a female gymnast at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
However, the nature of the crime has deeply shocked the athletes in Bengaluru. That a person could enter the washroom undetected and linger long enough to paste these messages is a shocking testimony to the lapse in security.
Coach Pramila Aiyappa told the paper "It's bad that we don't have enough female athletes. Such things will further discourage parents from allowing their children to take up sport."
A former athlete told the News Minute that the security at the stadium was inadequate. "People could enter easily with or without ID cards," Manuja told TNM.
The Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) had initiated a probe into the incident.