Football has an opportunity to raise awareness about sexual violence, says Rape Crisis

17 Oct 2014

Katie Russell, spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England & Wales said:

“Rape Crisis does not, and has never, disputed any convicted criminal’s right to return to society and to work after they’ve served their sentence. 

Our focus is not on the treatment of sexual violence perpetrators; our expertise and priorities lie with the needs and rights of sexual violence survivors. 

As such, we’re concerned that survivors’ voices and feelings not be lost or overlooked in the furore surrounding one high profile rapist’s release from prison. 

Football clubs pride themselves on being at the heart of their communities and sexual violence survivors are part of every community, just as they are among the fans of any football club and the crowd at any football match.  

After Ched Evans’ conviction, the violent and horrific abuse his victim received, on Twitter in particular, gave the impression that football was not a safe or welcoming place for sexual violence survivors or indeed for women and girls. 

Football now has an opportunity to send clear messages to the contrary. 

Official statements condemning rape, sexual violence and violence against women and girls in the strongest terms would be a start. 

A commitment to invest in raising awareness and understanding of sexual violence, educating young football fans in particular about the meaning of consent and about respect in relationships, and proactively dispelling victim-blaming myths, would be further positive measures, easy for well-resourced football clubs to implement in partnership with specialist organisations. 

How will football fulfil its responsibility to its followers and make explicit that there is no place for rape and abuse in ‘the beautiful game’?”