Pinki deserves a fair chance

Asian Games women’s gold medallist Pinki Pramanik, who was embroiled in a controversy surrounding her gender, has hit the headlines after being charged with rape and cheating by the police, post medical tests established that the athlete is a male.

Pinki was accused by her live-in partner Anamika Acharya of being a male who raped her, which led to Pinki’s arrest on June 14.

Now, Pinki has stated that she is being harassed by the police and is on the brink of committing suicide because of the harassment. While it is for the court to decide whether Pinki is guilty or not, what is important is that her words that she is on the brink of suicide not be taken lightly. After all, having one’s gender questioned or under suspicion is one of the most humiliating things a person can face, and this is being done on a public platform, compounding the humiliation.

It is vital that the case be handled with great sensitivity. While justice of course needs to be done, the media and this paper included must show great responsibility while reporting the case. The police similarly need to show sensitivity, which is different from sympathy, which, if Pinki’s words are true, has not been the case here. Finally, even the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) should at least provide a modicum of moral support to the athlete, while the court case is on. Let it not be forgotten that Pinki has won a clutch of medals for India at international level and for that alone, she needs some respect.

Ideally, counselling should go hand in hand with a case like this, but in the absence of that, gentler handling by all parties concerned is needed. When South African woman athlete Caster Semenya was embroiled in the similar controversy some time ago, she was actually put on suicide watch in her country. Guilty or not, male or otherwise, Pinki’s case needs immediate attention and fair treatment, to prevent a tragedy of monstrous proportions.  

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