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Terre des hommes Hellas statement on the sexual abuse scandals involving sports authorities coming into light in Greece

2021-01-26

Terre des hommes Hellas statement on the sexual abuse scandals involving sports authorities coming into light in Greece

Athens, 18.01.2021 - As an international and Greek organisation with a long-term active involvement in the field of minors’ protection in sports and recreational settings, and following the recent testimonials of the Greek athletes reporting having suffered sexual harassment and abuse, Terre des hommes Hellas expresses its support to the women who found the courage to break their silence, and encourages other people who may have suffered similar violence to report the incidents and demand that the authorities investigate them accordingly.

Moreover, Terre des hommes (Tdh) Hellas calls on all sides, be it public bodies or individuals, who still insist on blaming the victims instead of the offenders – under the pretext that they either did not report their experience in time or do not bear sufficient information to support their allegations, etc. – to avoid making such statements in public. Such attitudes, on one hand, further impact the victims both mentally and emotionally, in many cases even re-traumatizing them, while, on the other hand, discourage other incidents from coming to light and enable the offenders, thus complicating and perpetuating the problem.

Instead of having any demands on the victims, let us demand that the Authorities proceed with the consolidation and implementation of national standards that are vital to ensure the prevention, detection and elimination of sexual harassment and abuse phenomenon in sports, the organisation says.

Tdh Hellas, having identified serious gaps in the protection of children from abuse in sports and recreation venues, has started developing in 2019 the project “Keeping Children Safe in Sports”, with the help of specialised experts. The project paves the way for the effective protection of children in sports and recreational settings. Using scientific methodologies and tools, Tdh focuses on the prevention and tracing of abuse cases and on encouraging actors to report any incident or concern that comes to their notice. We began with activities in children’s camps all over Greece and we are grateful that in this effort we found an ally among many camp owners. Their example must now be replicated by sports bodies – federations, clubs, etc. – but also by the competent ministries, showing similar courage and initiative.

We have already initiated training activities for camp workers on the different aspects of protection from abuse. Moreover, we have organised informative and self-protection sessions for the children themselves, whereas in the near future we intend to extend the programme so as to include sports venues. Our ultimate goal, however, is to help organisations and entities adopt and implement safeguarding protocols as well as protocols concerning the adequate reporting of incidents or concerns of abuse.

With “Say NO, Leave, Speak out” as our motto, we seek to build an environment where victims are empowered to come forward and incidents of abuse are reported both by children and adults.

Competent sports bodies must now comply with international standards and adopt protection and safety protocols, as well as respond to any relevant concerns. Let us hope that the public accusation made by Sofia Bekatorou, the Greek Olympic sailing champion, and the claims by other athletes which add up to those by others in the past, in Greece and abroad, will be a trigger towards the right direction.

The “Keeping Children Safe in Sports” project is coordinated by the Terre des hommes office in Romania and implemented by the organisation’s offices in Greece, Hungary and Romania, with the support of the EU Programme “Rights, Equality and Citizenship”.

For more information, please contact Melina Spathari, Advocacy & Communications Manager, Terre des hommes Hellas, +30 6972070223, melina.spathari@tdh.ch