As an Anglophile, I was very excited to hear that the Olympics would be in London this year. However recently I have become less enthused, upon hearing that the Olympics committee has refused to address violence against women. Specifically they are refusing to address the proven increased instances of sexual violence that occur along with major sporting events. Why is there not a whole campaign built around raising awareness about violence against women? Why don’t they care?
When the advocacy group End Violence Against Women came to the Olympics committee group, Locog, they had planned to collaborate. End Violence Against Women had recently published research that sighted alarming results including:
“…incidents of violence between partners increased by as much as 30% during England’s fixtures during the 2006 Fifa World Cup. On the day England were beaten 4-1 by Germany in the Football World Cup in 2010, there were record numbers of assaults against sexual partners in Greater Manchester, for example – 350 in a single day.”
Following these disturbing findings, End Violence Against Women lobbied for information about sexual violence to be included for all visitors to the Olympics as well as for all of the athletes. The group thought that they had reached an agreement with Locog. Now Locog has gone back on their promise to include multiple types of hotlines for different issues such as rape, domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault. They will instead only provide one hotline for general “victim support.” The Olympics committee won’t host any further campaign to address these issues, or provide further information, and it is incredibly disappointing.
It’s better than nothing at all, but the problem with only a general “victim support” hotline is that it just won’t be called. It’s too general and callers will never know which issues the counselors on the other end of the line are mainly trained in. And what about those who feel shame and do not wish to be labeled as a victim? A victim support hotline could make them feel further shame and discomfort, as opposed to giving them strength and the agency to help themselves heal. There are different types of violence and all should be addressed as per specific needs.
Violence survivor hotlines are frequently used and are really helpful to those who need it. The NYC based Safe Horizon, the largest victim’s services agency in the US, reaches more than 250,000 people affected by violence each year. Safe Horizon provides anonymous hotlines for survivors of domestic violence, crime, rape, sexual assault, and incest. Anonymous hotlines are very ideal for those who need it. It is a way to receive immediate and tailored assistance to a crisis. It might even be easier for some people than going to any sort of therapist, because it’s much more immediate. Through calling specific crisis hotlines, like the Safe Horizon hotlines, callers can be directed to emergency housing, counseling, legal services, and other support that they may need. The Olympics committee should look to Safe Horizon’s example, as they have a responsibility to provide similar crisis hotlines with these crucial services for callers.
I just don’t understand why any organization or anyone would back out of an opportunity to raise awareness and help so many women. It could only make them look better for their consumers to see that they are interested in helping women who are affected by sexual assault. The Olympics committee also has the capability to do more than just a hotline, they could have done a whole ad campaign to raise awareness. Now the Olympics committee is sending the message that they don’t care about violence against women, it’s that simple. With the money they’ve spent advertising on Coke cans, magazine spreads, commercials for every unrelated product, it’s insulting that they would discount End Violence Against Women’s campaign. Especially when they clearly have the capability to do a lot with it.
For more information about End Violence Against Women and their London 2012 campaign: http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/london-olympics-2012