EWL News

London 2012: Games for Women?

The French Coordination of the EWL has issued a Press Release condemning the flouting of women’s rights in the framework of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The EWL in May 2012 adopted an Emergency Motion regarding Universalism and the Olympics. The Press Release below is from the CLEF.

[CLEF, Paris, 12 August 2012] With much recourse to statistics, the IOC boasts of its record: A constantly increasing participation of women, with 45% as compared to 42% at the Beijing Games in 2008, no delegation without women, while in Beijing, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had none, and access for women to all sports.

Yet inequalities between women and men remain in the Olympics. They are largely ignored. For example, there are 30 events less for women, therefore, so many less medals.

Several significant facts concerning women’s very different status tarnish this self-satisfaction given itself by the IOC:

Tourist class travel for the Japanese world champion football players and Australian basket ball players, while their male counterparts, of a lower level, are granted business class travel.
The pretext given is that men’s legs are longer than those of women!

The lamentable exhibition of the Saudi judoka, who first paraded in a black abaya, then wore a sort of nightcap for the qualifying match. She was immediately beaten on the tatami.
In the name of the rule governing this sport, the International Judo Federation did attempt to resist this masquerade imposed by Saudi Arabia and approved by the IOC. We also recall the requirement of a personal guardian for this woman and the refusal of all mixity. The solely political and financial reasons won out. In fact, sports are still forbidden to Saudi girls, and most often they are hidden in Islamic countries, disdaining the wishes of the young women themselves.

17 delegations with women wearing Islamic costumes in contradiction to the sports neutrality required by the Olympic Charter (Rule 50). How could this be? Well, a new interpretation of the veil, even though claimed to be Islamic by the bearers, makes it a benign cultural sign. See FIFA’s decision, endorsed by the IOC, to please Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan a brother of the King of Jordan and at the Iran’s request. Thus, one of the fundamental rules of the Olympic Charter is emptied of all meaning by those in charge of its implementation.

New stereotypes make their appearance. Women’s bodies have been denuded for commercial reasons, such as in beach volley ball, the players wearing a bikini. By contrast, in London, the referee was an Egyptian woman all dressed up in her Islamic costume. Already in Beijing, Rokaya al Gassra from Bahrein, had run the 400 meter race wearing a costume covering tightly her body from head to toe, similar to Woody Allen’s when he played a spermatozoid! Snapshots were taken showing her praying on the racetrack.

How different is the splendid image of Tunisian Habiba Ghrita, (silver medallist of 3000 meter steeple race), when she won offered her medal to the Tunisian people and most of all to the Tunisian women. At the same time, under Islamic pressure, the National Constituent Assembly abandoned the principle of equality between men and women. Now women are to be only “complementary” to men.

One might have hoped a critical analysis of obvious floutings of the universal rules by commentators. These are not just anecdotic situations.

Pointing at these sad realities was the aim of July 25 events organised by the “London 2012: Justice for Women” group: the nautical burial ceremony of the Olympic Charter, chucked in the river Thames, because of its betrayal by the IOC, and the delivering to each member of the Olympic Movement of the following 7 demands.

  1. Parity in all sports and Olympic events.
  2. Parity in the decision making bodies beginning with the immediate application of at least 20% women as determined by the IOC in 1996.
  3. Same recognition to women as to men champions (beginning by the attribution of the Gold Medal to the female winner of the Marathon by the President of the IOC as well as to the male winner).
  4. Exclusion of all male only delegations and of countries who forbid women to freely play sport.
  5. Exclusion of all delegations wearing political and/or religious symbols.
  6. No more support of the IOC to the International segregated games organised by Teheran for women.
  7. To combat gender stereotypes and violence.

The “Rio 2016 Committee: “Justice for Women” will be vigilant with regard to the action of the new IOC President to be elected in September 2013.

Contacts :

  • Annie Sugier, Président of the LDIF and member of the CLEF
    +33 (0)6 38 39 42 92
  • Linda Weil-Curiel, General Secretary of the LDIF,
    +33 (0)6 888 44 009
  • Audrey Robert, Assistant of the Clef,
    +33 (0)1 55 50 45 64

© Paolo d Sharp

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