Domestic Violence Increases During World Cup
Men + male-oriented and dominated sports + lots of booze doesn't exactly make for a winning, women-friendly combination.
By Sarah Menkedick
In fact, in a society that begins gender stereotyping from a very young age by insisting that sports are the domain of men and women should sit by and please them with snacks and clueless giggles, and in a media culture in which men are frequently portrayed as valiant heroes and women as smiling bimbos, it's sadly no shock that the world's biggest sporting event is accompanied by a surge in domestic violence.
England's Home Office has warned that during the 2006 World Cup, domestic violence increased by 25% on game days and 30% when England was eliminated from the competition. The problem is troubling enough that the Association of Chief Police Officers, with the hopes of discouraging incidents, has created a video showing a drunk man hitting his wife after England has presumably lost a game. The ACPO has also been using a blood-stained soccer jersey labeled "Strikeher" to encourage women to report attacks.
Meanwhile, a professor at the University of Royal Holloway London is urging women to have a plan in place in case their partner becomes violent during the World Cup. She tells women to let their children sleep somewhere else, to know where their car keys are, to have the cell phone ready to call police.
While I see the practicality of this, I also find it deeply disturbing. What happens to these women when a major sporting event isn't happening? Also, while emphasis on taking personal safety measures is necessary, shouldn't this be an opportunity to reach out to women to help them escape dangerous domestic situations, and not simply avoid them?
A news report on domestic violence during the World Cup estimated that 20,000 people a week are victims of domestic violence in England — 20,00 people a week. A lot of the blame for abusive behavior during the World Cup is placed on alcohol; apparently, 21 million more pints will be consumed in Britain alone. But if this many people are abused regularly by their partners, than we can't really place the blame on a few lousy soccer games and a few too many beers.
It's good that precautions are being taken to warn people about potential increases in domestic violence during the World Cup, but at the same time I think it's a) tragic that it takes an event of this magnitude to get people concerned about the dangers battered women face and b) tragic that, in England and in many other places, an event that can be as thrilling and positive as the World Cup so often ends up as the domain of frustrated, exaggerated machismo.
Photo credit: Daathi2
Sarah Menkedick is a freelance writer currently based in Oaxaca, Mexico. She has spent the last five years teaching, writing and traveling on five continents. She regularly writes about women's rights.