Campaigners urge Ayrshire sports clubs to do more to tackle sexual misconduct

Sports clubs across Ayrshire, and the rest of the country, have been asked to do more to end sexual misconduct in sport.

Campaigners first called on sports clubs and organisations to implement a sexual misconduct policy last year through an open letter to sporting bodies.

But the End Sexual Misconduct in Sport campaign has warned that many have not signed up and that continued inaction leaves them complicit.

Publishing an updated call ahead of a roundtable discussion between the Scottish Government, opposition parties and sporting bodies today, the campaign urged teams to introduce comprehensive new policies to tackle sexual violence and misogyny.

An open letter states: “We fear that we underestimated the lack of willingness to engage in this conversation and the barriers that were in place stopping teams from implementing such a policy. These barriers included organisations being occupied by other matters, inadvertance, ignorance, fear, misogyny, sexism and, most commonly, a lack of awareness of the importance of this type of policy.

“Over the last year, we have begun to break down these barriers, engage with key decision makers and have been able to highlight why this is a conversation worth having. We are thankful to all who have engaged, and in particular to the Scottish Rugby Union for their huge effort in becoming part of this discussion and their active involvement to make any necessary changes.”

The End Sexual Misconduct in Sport campaign was launched by Miss J – who has an anonymity order and cannot be named – in 2022 after her own experience of sexual violence.

The letter calls on clubs to introduce new sexual misconduct policies, backed by training for players, managers, coaches, owners and staff aimed at targeting misogyny, harassment, sexual violence and abuse both on and off the field.

Campaigners also urged clubs to adopt clear protocols on how to handle complaints of sexual misconduct and clear guidance on consequences of such behaviour and disciplinary action clear channels to report, both externally and internally.

The campaign is encouraging teams to go beyond simply protecting employees from sexual harassment, and to implement more comprehensive protective measures.

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