Irshadgul News report,
A group representing hundreds of gymnasts who have survived abuse at the hands of coaches and sports organizations is calling on the federal government to launch a national judicial inquiry to uncover past abuse.
In an appearance before the House of Commons Status of Women Committee, Kim Shore, co-founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada—a group dedicated to eradicating abuse in gymnastics—called for a judicial inquiry into human rights violations against athletes of all ages. Said for
Shore said, “Gymnastics is rotting from top to bottom and bottom to top.” “I wonder how many of you would choose gymnastics for yourself or your child if you knew what we do.”
Shore, whose group represents more than 500 former and current gymnasts, suggested that young children are being pushed too hard to perform and their personal safety is being put at risk by overzealous coaches.
She asked the committee members how many of them have ever had to “choose between the safe haven of their sexually abusive male coach, just to escape the utter brutality of their female coach.”
Shorey was one of the first witnesses to testify before the committee, which on Monday began hearings on the safety of women and girls in sports.
She said that children abused in organized sports often grow up to harm themselves, develop eating disorders, suffer from self-esteem issues or require treatment.
“This is a reality for many child gymnasts in Canada – violence, humiliation, disrespect and some of the worst abuse you can imagine, yet no plan in place for prevention,” she said.
Amelia Kline, another co-founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada, said there is no up-to-date national registry to track coaches who have abused athletes and ended up serving their suspensions.
“Other trust-based professions, teachers, doctors, lawyers, we all have public disciplinary records,” Kline said. “Why wouldn’t we have a publicly available discipline record at that point?”
Rob Kohler is the head of Global Athlete, an international, athlete-led group working to address the “imbalance of power between athletes and administrators”. He told the committee that steps needed to be taken to weed out “bad behaviour” from the sports fraternity.
“Their lived experiences must be heard, must be taken into account, and these bad practices that surround the sport must be removed,” he said. “Athletes are afraid and don’t trust the sports system.”
Human rights issue, not sports issue
Kohler said the current sports system is “dramatically failing athletes” and sports organizations cannot be trusted to regulate themselves when it comes to allegations of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
He called on the government to set up an independent body to investigate allegations of abuse, rather than leave that task to sports organizations that are not designed or equipped to conduct investigations.
“Abuse in sport is a human rights issue, not a sports issue,” he said.
Kohler said that although he would not share the stories of abuse told by athletes, they were very disturbing.
He said athletes no longer trust the sports system to act in their best interests, parents and athletes fear retribution when they speak up, and confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements prevent people from coming forward with allegations. are stopping from.
Last week, members of parliament continued their investigation of Hockey Canada. The national sports body has been mired in controversy for months after the organization unfairly handled allegations of sexual harassment involving members of the 2018 World Junior Team.
An investigation into that sexual assault has been launched by police in London, Ontario, while Halifax police are investigating allegations of mass sexual assault involving members of the 2003 men’s junior team.
None of the allegations have been proved in court.
“What we learned from the Hockey Canada hearing is that people in positions of power, who are trying to hold on to power, are not going to be willing to come to the table, be transparent, and provide us with all the information need to know how to make things better,” Shore told The Canadian Press before appearing before the committee.
“And that’s why the judicial inquiry is important, because we need subpoena power to compel individuals to turn over documents and share what went wrong in the past so that we can fix the future.”