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 to 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 honoured 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 addressing 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 localisation 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’ specialised 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 organisations 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.
According to WHO, violence is a pervasive public health and human rights problem around the world. It affects women, men, boys and girls in all countries and cuts across boundaries of age, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, culture and wealth. Statistically, women and children (both boys and girls) are most affected by violence in the home and it is often perpetrated by men they know and trust.
Data (Source: WHO and others)
- Almost one in three women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence, not including sexual harassment, by any perpetrator
- Globally, 30% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime
- Globally up to 38% of murders of women are committed by intimate partners
- Adolescent girls, young women, women belonging to ethnic and other minorities, transwomen, and women with disabilities face a higher risk of different forms of violence
- The majority (55% to 95%) of women survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual violence do not disclose or seek any type of help or services
- Being abused as a child or exposed to violence in the family when growing up, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality including gender norms increase the risk of perpetrating violence against a partner; in some settings violence is associated with excessive use of alcohol
- Globally, over one billion children – over half of all boys and girls aged 2–17 years – experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence every year
- The lifetime prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is 18% for girls and 8% for boys
- Homicide is among the top five causes of death in adolescents, with boys comprising over 80% of victims and perpetrators
- Regional statistics also exist. For example in Europe, it is estimated that one in five (20%) children have experienced sexual abuse, and in the WHO European region, a quarter of women (15-49 years) have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it is estimated that 58% of children experience sexual, physical or emotional violence each year, and 30% of women have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.