When Cricket As Usual Is More Important Than Calling Out Sexual Violence

Posted: April 6, 2019
The Chennai Super Kings did not find it problematic that Scott Kuggeleijn has been accused of rape, and faced a trial that revealed many disturbing things. Can men say any more clearly, women, you don’t matter?
It made me angry. I wanted to learn more when I heard the whispers: and so, like you and every other person, I googled him.
And here’s what I found:
“Chennai Super Kings welcome Scott Kuggeleijn with a set of gifts”
“IPL 2019: Scott Kuggeleijn arrives in India to join the CSK camp”
“Scott Kuggeleijn slots in for injured Lungi Ngidi at Super Kings”
Only two news outlets suggested that something was not right: and they skirted the issue. Sample this:
“IPL: Who is Scott Kuggeleijn? Chennai Super Kings’s latest signing has a controversial background”
“Chennai Super Kings Rope in Controversial Kiwi Player Scott Kuggeleijn for IPL”
That’s not telling enough, is it? What Scott Kuggeleijn has behind him is an allegation of rape that took him to trial twice. He was accused of raping a woman in a flat in Hamilton, New Zealand, in 2015, and stood trial twice. In the first instance, the jury did not find him guilty, and in the second instance, the jury acquitted him on the ground that it was not possible to ascertain that he had indeed committed the crime of rape without reasonable doubt. Stick with me, there’s more.
Even though Kuggeleijn was acquitted, a lot about the defense his team and he submitted present insensitive, shocking, and outright wrong assertions. Sample this:
– During the trial, Kuggeleijn admitted that the woman did not consent to have sex with him.
– During the trial, Kuggeleijn admitted that the woman had said no to his persistent attempts.
– Kuggeleijn suggested that he had apologised to the woman through a text message the next day.
– His attorney slut shamed the woman for not saying no emphatically enough.
Now here’s what followed. While he was accused and facing the trial, New Zealand Cricket (the cricket regulatory authority in New Zealand) said nothing. Once he was acquitted, he was welcomed back on the team. Now, he’s a part of the lineup in the Chennai Super Kings team.
This is problematic, to say the least. While it is beyond our reach and scope to call for a retrial so Kuggeleijn is examined appropriately for his crime, it is definitely disparaging to note the silence and the bro culture that continues to prevail in the cricketing fraternity. That the crimes against a woman can go completely sidelined and ignored, that a man can be restored to the national team (and other teams) of a popular sport without so much as a question of his behaviour, and that this radio silence continues even in the mass media is representative of the callousness with which we approach sexual violence. Even those that presented the story choose to suggest that it isn’t more than “controversial.”
Any survivor will tell you that speaking up is a powerful act of courage and subversion, one that takes more strength than there are words to articulate. Add to that the burden of having to take on a perpetrator who is powerful and popular, and speaking up becomes a tougher task. Survivors who speak up against their perpetrators risk stigma, reprisals, retraumatization, and painful futility in their pursuit of justice. In effect, a crime as grave as sexual violence is relegated to a mere afterthought – a non-essential footnote – in a larger narrative that preserves power dynamics, popularity, and privilege. And this is dangerous. It suggests that women’s stories and pursuit of justice will not matter, that their trauma, their rights, and their freedom to assert themselves against the patriarchy will not be given space under the sun.
That New Zealand Cricket did this is disgusting. That CSK carried it forward is just plain debilitating. I must admit, though, that I am not surprised. When one end of the spectrum as evidenced by Hardik Pandya’s comments was not taken seriously enough to rebuke him for his bad behaviour, it is no surprise that sexual violence is an afterthought for these enablers.

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