The #SpeakingOut Movement has finally made it to the House Of Commons, as Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones shone a light on it during her adjournment debate on misogyny in sport last week.
She said: “Women make up only 18% of qualified coaches and only 9% of senior coaches. In almost half of publicly funded national governing bodies, less than a quarter of their board are women, and, in total, women make up only around 30% of board members. While it is easy to get lost in the statistics, these numbers really do matter, particularly in traditionally male-dominated sports such as wrestling. The disturbing reality and lived experience for many female wrestlers is, more often than not, entrenched in misogyny. I have heard horrific tales from female wrestlers who were faced with threats of rape or sexual assault, all in the name of “friendly banter”. I have also heard from women as young as 13 or 14 who, at the start of their careers, were the targets of vile behaviours that saw male wrestlers competing to be the one to take their virginity.
“The #MeToo movement shone a light on the inherent misogyny that persists across so many industries, but less well known is the Speaking Out movement, which has left the wrestling industry tainted with its harrowing stories of emotional and sexual abuse. These behaviours are disgraceful, yet they continue to persist, and ultimately, the sports industry urgently needs more regulation.
“The UK Government have a responsibility to engage proactively with governing bodies to support women and to bring an end this abuse. I would be interested to know how many meetings the Minister has had with governing bodies to discuss misogyny in sport. What tests has his Department put in place to hold these institutions to account, particularly when there is no governing body to hold to account, as with wrestling? Who should these young women turn to? We saw this problem with British Gymnastics. It is welcome that UK Sport and Sport England are commissioning the Whyte review into British Gymnastics, but the UK Government must take the lead.”