Two Indian cricketers have sparked outrage after a run of misogynist comments on prime-time television, prompting calls for gender sensitization in a sport rife with sex scandal.
Hardik Pandya and Lokesh Rahul were guests on an episode of Koffee with Karan – a popular TV chat show that aired on Sunday – where the former boasted about a crowded sex life and objectified women by casually dissecting their bodies.
People took to social media in vast numbers to criticize Pandya, as well as Rahul and show host Karan Johar, a Bollywood producer and director, saying they were complicit.
It also triggered an official backlash, with India’s main cricket board, the BCCI, asking the duo for a speedy explanation at a time when the sport’s mores are already under scrutiny.
Casual sexism is nothing new to cricket, after West Indies batsman Chris Gayle made louche suggestions to female reporters and appeared to treat them as sex objects in incidents in 2016.
Australian-born cricketer Alex Hepburn is on trial in Britain after he was accused of raping a sleeping woman as part of a sex game conducted on WhatsApp. He denies the allegation.
In 2015, Sri Lankan cricket authorities sacked three officials after allegations surfaced that members of the women’s national team had been forced to perform sexual favours in order to earn or keep their places in the squad.
Australian spin-bowling legend Shane Warne’s career was riddled with sex controversies dating back nearly two decades.
Experts say the BCCI intervention is crucial to ensure “locker room talk” is not normalized in India, where cricket is a national obsession and top players are revered by millions.
“With power comes responsibility, and in Hardik’s case, it was an act of complete irresponsibility,” cricket historian Boria Majumdar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.