FIFA, WHO, European Union launch campaign against domestic violence

Three international agencies have jointly launched the #SafeHome campaign to support women and children at risk of domestic violence.

The agencies, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union said the campaign is a joint response from the three institutions to the recent spikes in domestic violence.

In a statement, on Tuesday, they said the stay-at-home measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have put women and children at greater risk of abuse.

Violence is a pervasive public health and human rights problem around the world.

It affects all gender and cuts across boundaries of age, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, culture and wealth. Statistically, women and children are most affected by violence in the home and it is often perpetrated by men they know and trust.

In a statement published on the WHO website on Tuesday, almost one in three women globally experience physical 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 per cent of all murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.”


According to the three organisations, it is estimated that 1 billion children aged between two and 17 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,” they said.

The Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said harmful use of alcohol can also trigger violence, “just as physical, sexual or psychological violence has no place in football, it has no place in the home.”

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Also speaking, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said the football community will raise awareness to this “intolerable situation that threatens women and children in their own home, a place where they should feel happy, safe and secure.”

“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,” he said.

He called on member associations of FIFA 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.

“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,” he said.

Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said violence has no place in the society, and “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.”

She said it is the responsibility of society, to speak up for women who have experienced violence “in one form or the other.”