The international men’s football tournament, the 2014 Fifa World Cup, is about to take place in Brazil (12th June-13 July). This will include a total of 64 matches played in 12 cities across the country.
Many women may enjoy the sport, however for many others this will be a particularly horrific time.
According to research during tournaments such as the World Cup police estimate that incidents of domestic violence rise by about one third.
It is important to acknowledge however that male violence towards women happens at all times of the year, in all kinds of circumstances, by sober and drunk men, football and non football fans alike.
1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lives.
More than 2 women a week are killed by men in domestic violence in the UK.
According to domestic violence organisation Women’s Aid in (UK, 2013):
‘…figures show 89% of those experiencing more than four instances of violence were women, and women were four times more likely to experience sexual violence’
Domestic violence towards women by men is also highlighted not only for its frequency but also for its severity.
In research carried out during the World Cup in 2010 when England beat Slovenia 1-0 figures obtained from police forces across England under the Freedom of Information Act show show that reports of domestic abuse rose by 27.7%. When England lost 4-1 to Germany such figures also rose by 31.5%.
70% of the world’s poor are women due to their lack of human rights and access to resources. Brazil’s women are particularly vulnerable in poverty. In an attempt to quickly and crudely address Brazil’s complex social/crime problems ahead of the World Cup ‘pacification programmes’ have been introduced by the state which often utilise indiscriminate violent methods. Areas of Rio, for example, are being ‘socially cleansed’ due to the tournament (and future Olympics) with many of the poorest residents ordered to be removed from their homes as land values increase.
An increase in sex trafficking is expected to rise much further as the tournament nears to cater for male demand for prostitutes as thousands and thousands of male football fans flood the country. For trafficked women and girls this means abduction, imprisonment, psychological and physical torture, repeated rape and other horrendous abuses.
Globally 98% of victims of sex trafficking are women and girls. The average age for women to be forced into prostitution is 13.
According to one organisation – Happy Child “Children as young as 11 or 12 are already being trafficked in preparation for the World Cup.” That’s child rape as a form of ‘entertainment’ for male pleasure.
Also for women who are already prostitutes in the country international pressures to ‘clean up’ means that many, as well as facing the risk of every day violence from pimps/punters, will also face the possibility of state violence in crackdowns too.
‘To stop sex trafficking and prostitution, I think going after the root of the problem is the biggest help and the root is the male demand for paid sexual access to women and children’s bodies‘. http://www.equalitynow.org/survivorstories/trisha
Prostitution is however a continuous global threat to all female freedom and liberation. Events like the World Cup only highlight male demand. Organisations, such as Amnesty International, who have been lobbied by men’s rights activists to promote ‘a man’s right to the use of prostitution’ are willfully ignoring the devastation and abuse this forces on millions of women and girls. They are in fact endorsing female patriarchal subordination and promoting….
‘the unimaginable triviality of the male orgasm compared to the human rights devastation that prostitution inflicts on whole swathes of the globe’s female population’. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-23/norma-do-men-have-a-right-to-prostitutes/5471458
For many women and girls therefore the meaning of the World Cup will not be that of celebrating an international sporting event but the reality of an increased and horrendous experience of male violence.