Special for Express 'Today we can stand without fear, look Brijbhushan in the eye, and tell him – we are not going anywhere': Vinesh Phogat | Other sports news.

Since the morning of Friday, May 10, my fellow wrestlers and I have been waiting to see what happens in court. We had logged in online but the connection was lost for a while. Later in the afternoon, it was someone from our team of lawyers who told Sakshi (Malik) that charges had been filed. I was on training when I got the news.

The verdict against former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on charges (sexual harassment and incitement of women) is a victory for us, but our battle continues in court. will Today we can stand without fear, our heads held high, look him in the eyes, the person we feared for so many years. Brij Bhushan has given a message that we will not go anywhere until women wrestlers get justice.

The framing of charges also sends a strong message that women can stand up to powerful men and need not be afraid. It was not easy to protest against so powerful, it was a daily war and there were many powerful people who wanted us to fail.

A negative campaign was also launched against us at all stages of our protest, even when we were at Jantar Mantra and even after that. Brijbhushan had initially even said that he was ready to hang himself if a woman came forward and said she was being sexually harassed.

What happened to the implementation of this statement? Now he keeps changing his position.

A festive offering

We were worried about him using his powerful connections to pressure the system but our lawyer told us not to worry. BJP has given ticket to his son for Lok Sabha elections. This shows that they still support Brij Bhushan. I can say that the day Brijbhushan does not get the support of the government at the center and he loses power, there will be many more girls who will come forward and complain about him.

Vinesh Phogat Vinesh Phogat recently qualified for the Paris Olympics. (File Photo/@Phogat_Vinesh)

We got support but there were many people who turned a blind eye to what Brij Bhushan did. We can't do anything about them, we can't wake them up and make them aware of the facts.

Enter the short article

Even after stopping our protest at Jantar Mantar, criticism continues against us protesting wrestlers. It also happens when I'm competing now. I didn't win the 53kg trials because I wanted to focus on 50kg. I didn't really go all out in the 53kg trials. Immediately, the IT cell went after me.

Even when Bajrang didn't do well, that's what happened. And when I do well, these critics are silenced. It's not easy when you get trolled or have negative comments about you. All our lives we fought with dignity and peace. But because of IT cells and trolls, negativity has built up.

Some people think that we have been supported because of politics. We cannot go and tell everyone that we have no agenda other than justice for women wrestlers, that we are not doing politics. I don't feel bad for those who didn't believe in us or support us. I just feel that they are closed minded people and unwilling to see what the truth is.

Also, as an athlete, it was difficult. I think most people in other sports would have thought we were crazy to protest like we did in the heat and on the road. I hope that with the framing of the charges, their thought process has also changed. It was difficult because I was an active wrestler but I had to devote my energies to making sure that the demonstrations didn't end or get vandalized. Bajring's wrestling career took a hit, with the surgery forcing him to miss the Asian Games. We returned our awards and Sakshi had to retire in protest after the WFI election results.

But we also made positive progress along the way. Initially, we were not sure how the police would conduct their investigation, but they did a good job.

There are other fascinating developments as well. I'm not sure if it's because we've been vocal about female wrestlers being sexually harassed, but recently there was a similar case in football and the girls who were affected spoke out. Be it politics or sports or any other field, I hope that our protest has given women the courage to speak up. And if we win this case, it will have a positive impact on women across the country.

(Vinesh Phogat is a medalist at the World Championships, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. She won quota for the Paris Olympics. She was at the forefront of protests demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Singh when six women wrestlers attacked her. (A complaint of sexual harassment was lodged at the Connaught Place police station in April 2023.)

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded by: 12-05-2024 at 07:08 IST

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