A 17-Year-Old Gymnast Was Allegedly Dropped From 2019 SEA Games For Not Being A Virgin
Shalfa Avrila Sania is a 17-year-old Indonesian female gymnast
She was training for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (2019 SEA Games), a biennial regional multi-sport event which is being held in the Philippines from 30 November to 11 December 2019.
The 17-year-old was due to leave for this year's SEA Games in the Philippines on 26 November when she was suddenly dismissed from the training in mid-November, said a Thomson Reuters Foundation report.
The gymnast was dropped from this year's SEA Games on the claims that she was "no longer a virgin", Shalfa's family has alleged
"The coach said my daughter always goes out late with her male friends and their interrogation showed she was no longer a virgin," Reuters quoted Shalfa's mother, Ayu Kurniawati, as saying.
I was shocked. I want my daughter's name cleared.
In order to prove that the claims about her daughter's virginity are false, her mother has sent a letter to Indonesia's Ministry of Youth and Sports alongside a medical report that showed her hymen was intact
Her mother said that the coach simple cast Shalfa aside without any letter, "without any prior notice, just telling her to go home", adding that they claimed her "hymen was torn as if she was raped".
She said that Shalfa has won nearly 50 medals since she took up the sport when she was eight.
According to the family's lawyer, Imam Muklas, they are protesting Shalfa's dismissal.
However, on Friday, 29 November, Indonesia's sports ministry denied the claim, saying that Shalfa's dismissal was due to disciplinary issues
In a statement, Gatot Sulistiantoro Dewa Broto, a secretary at the Youth and Sports Ministry, said that they contacted the Gymnastics Association of Indonesia (PERSANI) regarding Shalfa's alleged expulsion.
According to him, the reason as to why Shalfa was dropped has nothing to do with her virginity and more to do with the athlete's performance and disciplinary issues.
"The truth, according to coach Pak Indra, was that the athlete had been sent home because she lacked discipline and focus, thus resulting in her declining performance, so they decided not to include her for SEA Games," Gatot said in a statement, as reported by The Jakarta Post.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports said that the Indonesia Gymnastics Association then replaced the female gymnast with a higher-ranked athlete due to Shalfa's misbehaviour.
However, Gatot has assured that if there is any truth to the allegations about Shalfa's virginity being the reason for her dismissal from the list of the contingent for SEA Games, the Ministry will take firm action
"We will take firm action if the athlete was sent back due to questions over her virginity because this is a matter of privacy, dignity and has nothing to do with performance," he said.
Meanwhile, Gatot added that the ministry has called on all sports branch to not cause even a little fuss as it will likely affect the concentration of the country’s delegation in general and asked them to first consult to the federation chief, KONI, or even the ministry.
"So, such a sensitive issue can be mitigated immediately,” he was quoted as saying by Tempo Media.
Close home, it was reported last month that the Terengganu state government will prohibit women from competing in gymnastics as they "display indecent movements" and "expose their bodies":