The Story the Media isn’t covering: The Scottish Cup Final

Today is the Scottish Cup Final. Apparently, it’s the Hibs and the Hearts playing. I don’t follow football and I actually don’t care all that much. At least, I don’t care about who actually wins the Scottish Cup. What I do care about is the consequences of the game on women. All sporting events bring an increase in domestic violence, rape and the abuse and trafficking of prostitutes. In 2010, the Association of Chief Police Officers made public warnings about the increase in domestic violence during the World Cup. The Washington Post covered the increased risk of sex trafficking during the Super Bowl. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics was accompanied by the highly successful “Buying Sex is not a Sport” campaign. There is very real media coverage of the increase in violence but it isn’t targeting that group of men who will use their victory/defeat as an excuse to hurt women. We need more athletes, especially professional footballers, to stand up and start taking responsibility for the consequences of the hyper-masculine culture which they inhabit. After all, I didn’t see huge swathes of footballers calling Ched Evans a rapist, even after he was convicted. It isn’t just athletes who can stop violence against women. Everyone needs to step up and take responsibility for the safety of women around them.

These are the statistics on domestic violence in “normal” situations:
  • A victim can suffer from 35 attacks before the abuse is reported to the police.
  • In the UK on average two women per week are killed by a current or former male partner.
  • Domestic abuse accounts for 15 per cent of all violent incidents.
  • One in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime with women at greater risk of repeat victimisation and serious injury.
  • 89 per cent of those suffering four or more incidents are women.
  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute
The 2006 World Cup campaign saw an average increase of 25% in terms of domestic violence calls. By 2010, research by Manchester police was suggesting an average of 30% higher than normal; this research was confirmed by the Home Office. That is for domestic violence alone.  It does not cover rape, sexual violence or the abuse of prostitutes. 

Dr Catherine Palmer, of Durham University, was tasked with reviewing all the literature which could demonstrate a link between violence against women and sport after the World Cup in 2010. The report is available here via the End Violence Against Women Coalition. These are the themes raised in the report: 

• there are clear links between expressions and enactments of masculinity and sport- related violence against women;
• sport-related violence against women occurs in a range of settings and contexts, including homes, pubs and clubs, hotel rooms, brothels, the street and other public spaces;
• sport-related violence against women is perpetrated by both male athletes and by male fans or consumers of sport and sporting events, as well as by coaches of female athletes;
• human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains difficult to quantify, with the research evidence frequently being contradictory, but literature suggests that events such as London 2012 may well provide a context in which women and girls could be trafficked;
• the literature suggests that the influx of tourists, site workers and contractors, the media, and indeed the athletes themselves, at major sporting events creates a particular environment that may have an impact on women’s safety;
• the literature suggests the increased population in the UK for the Olympic Games and Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games may create a greater demand for on and off street prostitution;
• events such as the 2010 World Cup have highlighted the connections between sports spectatorship and intimate partner violence, and the need for police, authorities and services to be aware of this when planning sporting events;
• excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing factor in the above;
• the literature suggests that there is sufficient evidence for agencies and authorities to be concerned about a potential increase in trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and harassment, and intimate partner violence. There is a need to act now in order to respond to and prepare for London 2012, Glasgow 2014 and other major sporting events.

These statistics are horrifying and we, as a society, are simply not taking the responsibility for changing the patriarchal structures which consider it normal to abuse women’s bodies as a reaction to how their team performed. 

Today, everyone needs to take responsibility for the safety of women. 
Witnessing violence without phoning the police is condoning violence.
Men who “buy” prostitutes are committing sexual violence.
Sex trafficking includes moving women within a city.

Dial 999

or


Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 010 302 

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