FIFA-EC-WHO #SafeHome campaign to support those risking domestic violence

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Photo: WHO Video

By SAT News Desk/WHO

MELBOURNE, 26 MAY 2020: The COVID-19 global crisis has resulted in a big loss of life and the disruption of the economic and social fabric of society. One consequence has been the spike in domestic violence. To plug this and help victims the FIFA, WHO, and the European Commission have joined forces, to launch the #SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk of domestic violence. The campaign is a joint response from the three institutions to the recent spikes in reports of domestic violence as stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have put women and children experiencing abuse at greater risk.

Almost one in three women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by someone else in their lifetime. In a majority of cases, that violence is committed by a partner in their home – indeed, up to 38% of all murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. It is also estimated that one billion children aged between two and seventeen years (or half the world’s children) have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year.

There are many reasons why people perpetrate domestic violence, including gender inequality and social norms that condone violence, childhood experiences of abuse or exposure to violence and coercive control growing up. Harmful use of alcohol can also trigger violence. Stressful situations, such as those being experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability, exacerbate the risk. Moreover, the current distancing measures in place in many countries make it harder for women and children to reach out to family, friends and health workers who could otherwise provide support and protection.

“Just as physical, sexual or psychological violence has no place in football, it has no place in the home,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “We are so pleased that our partners today are joining us to draw attention to this critical issue. As people are isolated at home because of COVID-19, the risks of domestic violence have tragically been exacerbated.”.

“Together with the World Health Organization and the European Commission, we are asking the football community to raise awareness of this intolerable situation that threatens particularly women and children in their own home, a place where they should feel happy, safe and secure,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. “We cannot stay silent on this issue that negatively affects so many people. Violence has no place in homes, just as it has no place in sports. Football has the power to relay important social messages, and through the #SafeHome campaign, we want to ensure that those people experiencing violence have access to the necessary support services they need.”

“Violence has no place in our societies,” said Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth. “Women’s rights are human rights and should be protected. Often abused women and children are afraid to talk because of fear or shame. This ‘window’ to speak up and seek help is, during confinement, even more, restricted. As a matter of fact, in some countries, we have seen an increase in reports of domestic violence since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is our responsibility as a society, as institutions to speak up for these women. To give them trust and support them. This is the purpose of this joint campaign which I am honored to be part of.”

“We call upon our member associations to actively publish details of national or local helplines and support services that can help victims and anyone feeling threatened by violence in their locality,” added the FIFA President. “We also call upon our members to review their own safeguarding measures using the FIFA Guardians toolkit to ensure that football is fun and safe for everyone in our game, especially the youngest members of the football family.”

The five-part video awareness campaign features 15 past and present footballers – Álvaro Arbeloa, Rosana Augusto, Vítor Baía, Khalilou Fadiga, Matthias Ginter, David James, Annike Krahn, Marco Materazzi, Milagros Menéndez, Noemi Pascotto, Graham Potter, Mikaël Silvestre, Kelly Smith, Óliver Torres and Clementine Touré – who have stressed their support to address this critical issue. The campaign is being published on various FIFA digital channels, with #SafeHome also being supported with multimedia toolkits for the 211 FIFA member associations and for various media agencies to help facilitate additional localization and to further amplify the message worldwide.

Video 1: Survivor advice 1

Video 2: Survivor advice 2

Video 3: Survivor support

Video 4: Perpetrator advice

Video 5: Government advice

WHO, the United Nations’ specialized health agency, and FIFA, football’s world governing body, collaborate closely to promote healthy lifestyles, which includes being free of violence, through football globally. The two organizations jointly launched the “Pass the message to kick out coronavirus” campaign in March 2020 to share advice on effective measures to protect people from COVID-19. This was followed by the #BeActive campaign in April 2020 to encourage people to stay healthy at home during the pandemic.

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