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Rape Crisis responds to ongoing debate surrounding rapist's release from prison

22 Oct 2014

In response to today’s news that convicted rapist Ched Evans is to return to training with his former football club, Sheffield United, spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales Katie Russell said: 

“What is especially disappointing about today’s news is that, once again, it comes with no strong statement from Sheffield United regarding their stance on sexual violence and violence against women and girls. 

Rape Crisis and others have repeatedly called for football to make clear that they recognise the devastating, lifelong impact of rape on those who survive it, and to reassure fans that sexual violence and misogyny won’t be tolerated in the ‘beautiful game’.

With today’s clear move towards accepting a convicted rapist back into its squad without public comment, Sheffield United has once again declined to condemn the violent crime of rape and given no indication that they feel they have any responsibility towards the huge numbers of sexual violence survivors who follow their club or attend its matches.

After Ched Evans’ conviction, the 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. 

Over recent months, debate surrounding Evans’ release from prison has suggested this is still the case, highlighting that there remains a vast amount of victim-blaming myth and misinformation surrounding rape and sexual violence in our society.

It has become clear, for example, that many people do not understand that someone incapacitated through alcohol is incapable of giving their consent to sex.

It has become clear that many people still consider rape in some contexts and circumstances more ‘real’, more harmful than others, and believe some rape survivors are therefore more ‘worthy’ of empathy than others.

From its privileged position at the heart of so many communities, football has the opportunity to support Rape Crisis and others in our ongoing work to redress this injustice and to uphold the needs and rights of sexual violence survivors by raising awareness and understanding. 

Instead, it chooses to snub survivors and ignore public opinion by once again failing to explain itself.”