While most of us hope football will come home, there are many women who fear their partners will do the same.
Today, with England set to play their second World Cup match, Women’s Aid is launching a chilling new campaign highlighting the increasing incidence and severity of domestic violence at major football tournaments.
For the first time in winter, the cold and dark evenings mean that more fans than usual are staying home to watch the World Cup.
For many women, this is a time of anxiety when existing domestic violence cases have been known to increase by as much as 38%.
The same study found that even when the England national team played and won or drew, domestic violence incidents still increased by 26% compared to days when there was no football match.
That’s why Women’s Aid teamed up with artist Corbin Shaw to raise awareness for the cause by designing a series of St George’s Cross flags with alternative football slogans such as “He’s Coming Home”.
Supported by supporters of Women’s Aid – including Spice Girl Melanie B and Dame Julie Walters – the launch coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The campaign aims to reassure women that they are not alone and ultimately help the charity save lives by raising awareness.
There is also a spillover effect, with domestic violence still increasing by 11% the day after a game in England.
It is clear that while football does not cause abuse, it can trigger an increase in existing abuse.
Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: “Everyone has a role to play when it comes to ending domestic violence and raising awareness of the support that is available at major tournaments such as the upcoming World Cup can help many women who live with abusive partners.
“While domestic violence is not caused by football, we know that existing violence can become more severe or more frequent at major tournaments.
“We ask everyone to share this important campaign at a time when many women need to know how to get support.”
Sixteen locations across the country will display the flag images for the next few weeks before the flags themselves are auctioned off to raise further charity funds.
A police officer quoted in the domestic violence report said: “The World Cup may seem like cause for celebration for many, but joy and anticipation can turn to despair and conflict with the kick of a ball.
“Although it is difficult to say that the tournament is a causal factor, the prestigious tournament concentrates the risk factors in a short and volatile period, thereby intensifying the concepts of masculinity, rivalry and aggression.”
If you experience domestic violence of any kind, Women’s Aid can offer help and support.
For more information see womensaid.org.uk
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