Editorial

Sexual exploitation, cover up, in taekwondo federation of Rwanda

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By Robert Mugabe

newsdesk@greatlakesvoce.com

Kigali, Rwanda-Taekwondo federation is mulled by series of scandals related to sex exploitation, abuse of power and blanket cover-up, Great Lakes Voice has independently learnt.
Six of the girls including underage have come out accusing their taekwondo team coaches to have persuaded them (girls) to sleep with them in exchange of various positions in taekwondo clubs, according to the internal report seen by this publication.

Though their names have been kept anonymous to protect their profession and identity, this publication learns that the state launched an investigation against Taekwondo officials four weeks ago.
The board of Taekwondo received the information about sexual exploitation in the clubs and inside the federation six months ago, by the president ordered and his board barred the information to leave the board, evidence show that the board tried to come up with counter narrative to silence the problem.

Others were asked to offer sex in exchange to be included in national team. Others had to give in for sex to be considered on competitors list attending international events in previous competitions held in Morocco and Tunisia-according to the witness.

Now sexual scandals have attracted the attention of Rwanda Investigative Bureau (RIB) agents. Some federation board members have been called in for interrogation just one-by-one since last month.
Men put on spotlight include club masters, club coaches and some board member including federation president himself.

Bagabo Placide, Taekwondo federation president confirmed to Great Lakes Voice during an exclusive interview that taekwondo committee is aware about sex offence allegations and that they were also shocked that such behavior was going on, he claims.

“Yes, we are aware of the allegations, we, at the federation are devastated,” Bagabo said, adding “There is an official investigation going on by RIB, and it’s almost a month now since the investigation was launched. Some people are being interrogated.”

Bagabo who doubles as the President of the federation, CEO of the federation and national team manager of taekwondo said the information about sexual abuses was first introduced by former communication director who is currently fired from office. “Her contract expired” said Bagabo.

However, Great Lakes Voice can confirm that all employees, unless an accountant, their contracts are expired but hung in into the office just to extend contracts for themselves.

Mr Bagabo, could not deny or confirm that the fired director of communication was the victim of the report she sent to the President about sexual exploitation and the meeting deliberations of women in taekwondo initiative. According to the constitution, 30% of board members are supposed to be women; however, only two woman out of six members sits at the board.

Our effort to talk to the former communication Director Francine Andrew Uwase was futile, as she declined to comment on the report allegendly originated from her office.
Most of the board members are paid staff of Taekwondo federation which gives them unequalled and absolute power over any decision and narrative portrayed in the public. Both the staff and board act as one which gives no room for accountability.
One of the girls interviewed said federation board president who is also the paid CEO of Taekwondo office believe that Bagabo used his power to suppress and censor the report about their sexual abuse.
The federation is funded by Korean embassy in Rwanda, Ministry of sports, Olympic and sports committee and world Taekwondo federation among others.
Tax payer cash

in 2016, government announced that there will be no sponsorship from state coffers to sports federations without legal status. by then, nine federations were suspended. nevertheless, Taekwondo federation without clear structure, no legal status, no biding internal rules yet still sponsored with tax payers money.
sports ministry official confirmed to Great Lakes Voice that government fund some of Taekwondo federation activists agreed in the action plan. however, the ministry isn’t clear bout how mush they have spent on this federation.

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