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Kenyans must act and kick out sex pests from sports organisations

OPINION
By Clay Muganda | July 17th 2021

Stories abound about sexual predators in Kenya’s sports federations and teams or clubs. [Courtesy]

That Kenyans are easily excitable is never in doubt and politicians always take advantage of them because of that. Even though it is easy to tickle them and have them swooning within seconds, they never act fast enough to curb the spread of toxic behaviours detrimental to their well-being and that of their children.

This is how they move when it comes to sexual offences. When it is reported that a sexual predator is roaming the streets harassing children, people in authority do not act immediately as more children continue to fall victim.

Many a time, they hear the victims wailing, but they do not have the spine to act, or will ignore, in the excuse that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

What they forget is that for guilt to be proven or not, a process has to be started so that the innocent person can face the criminal justice system which will determine their fate based on the evidence presented.

For Kenyans, the presumption of innocence means that no crime was committed, and as such, the suspect is being fought by their political enemies.

In Kenya, politics has become the get-out-of-jail card for anyone suspected of committing a crime, and last week, it was flashed by a coach who resigned moments before the federation expelled him from basketball-related responsibilities over sexual harassment allegations.

The back story was that he had allegedly preyed on a young female player. In a recorded telephone conversation with an older basketballer, the victim said the coach attempted to force himself on her after locking himself with her in a hotel room at night.

It is all politics, the coach said, even when in the phone conversation, the terrified young woman says she was told “nothing is for free” and that he thought “she is mature and knew how things are done,” all with promises that she will get a sports scholarship overseas.

Failing to take action leads to more rot in all institutions. [Courtesy]

They decided to fix me, the coach pleaded his innocence, adding that the whole story is not about predatory sex, but elections. That those of them who campaigned for the current chair of the federation are being targeted; it is a political witch-hunt.

Odd enough, the letter expelling him is signed by the same federation chair he says is the reason he is being fought.

The young lady gathered the courage to lodge a complaint with the police, but that was not the first time a story about sex pests in Kenya’s sports federations and clubs has leaked. The chair of the Kenya Basketball Women’s Commission admitted that these cases are not uncommon in their federation but the victims fear coming out, and so the officials’ hands are tied.

While that might sound like an empathetic statement, it is a pathetic one since the official is admitting that they know they have a problem but are not solving it. Instead, they are feeding off the fears of the victims to let the predators continue luring many others.

Young women who try to make it in football suffer too, and parents complain to female officials, some of whom were victims of sexual predators.

However, they too fail to act further than narrating their ordeal of yesteryear as if they want the young women to experience what they went through—going to the pitch to nurture their talents but getting impregnated instead after their young impressionable minds are manipulated with fake promises of a brighter future overseas.

Stories abound about sexual predators in Kenya’s sports federations and teams or clubs and even my beloved cricket has not been spared only that in this case the predators were said to be women.

Be they men or women, preying on the opposite sex or the same sex, sexual predators have to be stopped. And that can only happen when the people in authority in these bodies make it easier for the victims to speak up, and then help them access justice.

Sexual predators have to be stopped. [Courtesy]

Of course, this process starts by listening to them, because when that is not done, the suspects get emboldened - and sexual abuse in sports becomes normalised.

Failing to take action leads to more rot in all institutions. Kenyans get excited when they learn that someone in authority has committed an act that contravenes common decency, societal norms or even the law, but they never act.

Politicians steal from taxpayers and are called out, but come the next elections, they play victim, say it is all politics, blame non-existent enemies and then get re-elected by the people they consigned to untold sufferance.

Yes, bad manners have been normalised and victims made to think that suffering is the only way through which they can succeed. It is happening is sports circles, and the political space too—and unless we act, the number of victims will continue to rise.

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