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ATHENA’S PROGRAM FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN SPORTS – working title 


 

 

Country: Israel

Organisation responsible: Athena – the Professional Department of the National Project for the Advancement of Women in Sports
Athena’s administration contacted the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel (ARCCI), in order to work together to develop an intervention program to prevent and handle sexual harassment for women’s sports.

Main topic addressed: Preventing gender-based violence

Type of resource/practice: Educational tool


Discipline: Multi-sport

Target group(s): Athletes, coaches and sports leaders

Timing: Ongoing – the program has just started

Language: Hebrew

Brief description of the practice: The work plan included the following steps: developing certification seminars for coaches, female athletes, administrators and office-holders in the sports world and in various branches of sports: developing scenarios, means of operation and measures to adapt the training program, based on a catalogue of endemic practices for (A) sports leaders, (B) coaches, (C) women athletes, (C) individuals (women) in charge in the federations.
The program has two parts: First part of the program includes an extensive catalogue of endemic harassment practices in women’s sports. The catalogue describes prevalent types, that is, office-holders who repeatedly carry out harassment under routine circumstances, and also includes descriptions of situations that are prone to harassment, that is, typical situations in which one of the participants performs an act of sexual harassment. Types and prone situations unique to the field of sports depend on interactional situations characteristic of sports, and on the power relations characteristic of interactions between coaches, staff and office-holders in various circumstances.
The second part of the program is a prevention program developed by the Athena-ARCCI team. The program is systemic, and integrates a number of elements and organisational steps in a manner designed to disrupt endemic harassment practices even before they occur, thereby systematically turning the phenomenon of sexual harassment, as integral and a norm in the sports world, to a marginal or even non-existent one that is not derived or based on the culture of the sports world, but on the deviant behaviour of individuals who can be easily identified and expelled from the sports world.

Content and objectives: 

  • integrating the seminars in courses for sports instructors and coaches
  • continuing education programs on the “field” level, so that all office-holders who come into contact with athletes will attend continuing education classes and symposiums about sexual harassment: integrating required continuous education in every coach certification course; biennial continuous education refresher course for office-holders at the field level;
  • organising a mechanism to investigate/handle harassment in the sports field, anchoring it to regulations and practices as required by law; defining an agreed-upon, uniform regulation of investigation and response for the sports field;
  • defining, in writing, the roles of persons of interest in the exposure/investigation/response system (those in charge, trustees and disciplinary committees);
  • locating, selecting and training office-holders in the prevention system itself (those in charge, trustees, disciplinary committees, etc.).

Steps/activities of the practice: A general uniform regulation, shared by all associations and federations of sports, that will enable the inclusion of response, investigation and punishment in every sport, in accordance with the laws of the State of Israel. Office-holders who are trained for their roles: Israeli law requires that every organisation in the area of sports appoints individuals to be in charge. There is a need, at the very least, for an appointment at the organisational level that will be co-ordinated with the appointed person (woman) responsible at the national level, sport authority or Olympic Committee. These persons in charge will implement a process of professional identification and organisation, as well as basic training, which will also be based on understanding and identifying endemic harassment practices in sports.
A simple and clear communications system with athletes, that provides them with information about their rights and safe and reliable agencies to whom they can report and submit complaints regarding sexual harassment events.
A continuous system of exposure of harassers and harassment: reliability on the level of intelligence. A critical element in the situational prevention system is building and institutional ability to continuously expose harassment types and harassment practices, beyond the reliance solely on complaints and reports from the field. The exposure system must be proactive, actively searching and identifying types and situations, in order to prevent them before they become abuse. In the area of sports, we recommend that the best way to build such an exposure system is by means of trustees working at the level of clubs and groups. These are athletes in the field, who know and experience the world of the club, and whose role in the field is to listen closely and appraise what they see, as well as to be the first contact for athletes at the club level.

Resources required: Budget, program co-ordinator, experts, instructors conducting workshops

Achievements and outcomes: Today in 2019, the program's initial activities are carried out through Athena's programmes in 12 main sports Federations and a number of organisations (Athena co-ordinators leading the program)

Challenges and limitations: Budget 
Slow process - Barriers due to bureaucracy

Follow-up ideas and future plans: The Ministry of Culture and Sport leading policy for prevention of sexual abuse in sports assimilates criteria for allocating budget to sports federations; to implement the programme or encourage implementation of Athena’s programme for the prevention of sexual abuse in sports.

Further information: The program was developed according to the situational prevention model of endemic harassment practices[1] developed by Dr Zeev Lerer in co-operation with the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel (ARCCI).

[1] The term "endemic" is taken from the field of biology, and is used to indicate a disease, species or plant that is local and restricted to a specific area, is typical of it, and depends on its unique environmental characteristics in order to exist.

Contact person: Omrit Yanilov Edden, omrit@athenawomen.org.il


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