Edge Hill expert calls for greater recognition of gender-based violence in sport

Sporting organisations need to do more to understand and prevent gender-based violence, according to Edge Hill University senior lecturer Dr Melanie Lang in an interview with BBC Sport Online.

Internationally renowned for her work on child protection and gender-based violence in sport, Melanie was asked to comment on a recent report that suggested the level of gender-based violence in sport is underreported and that taking action to protect athletes is not given priority by sporting bodies.

In the article, Melanie points to the “power dynamic relationship” that exists between athletes and their coaches as a factor, saying:

“Because of that power dynamic, people are sometimes afraid to come forward because they may well lose their place in the team as a consequence.”

“Elite athletes are more likely to suffer from gender-based violence than amateur or recreational athletes because abusers know that the athlete is less likely to speak out as they have more to lose.”

The study, commissioned by the International Working Group on Women and Sport, questioned 158 worldwide organisations, all of whom are signatories of the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport, which calls on signatories to abide by the principle that women and girls should be able to take part in sport in a “safe environment”.

As well as recommending more research into the magnitude of the issue, Melanie also advises more awareness of gender-based violence among all sport stakeholders, including athletes.

“There is a need for people higher up in sporting hierarchies to get on board with this issue and take it seriously,” she said.

Read the full article here.