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Poverty and Domestic Violence
The connection between poverty and domestic violence is clear: Women from low-income backgrounds face increased vulnerability to abuse. They also struggle with barriers preventing them from escaping violence. Coming from a socioeconomically deprived household increases the likelihood of women suffering domestic abuse by three and a half times.

Studies in Great Britain also increasingly show the correlation between football (soccer) and alcohol-based intimate partner violence. During global football tournaments, existing abusive tendencies can be triggered.  This creates an environment where alcohol-related crime can surge. Economic status again comes into play here, with crimes involving alcohol being most prevalent among poorer communities.

Economic Abuse

The recognition of economic aspects of abuse is integral to tackling poverty and domestic violence at its core. Economic abuse is the legally recognized term referring to one partner being controlled and abused by the other who has power in terms of money, finances and items that a person’s money can buy. Those who suffer from economic abuse are five times more likely to face physical violence than those who do not. Without access to the funds needed to leave, economic abuse victims stay in a relationship longer and face more harm.  

The damaging effects of the United Kingdom’s austerity measures have also disproportionately impacted women. They have seen both their rights and economic security weakened by austerity cuts. Reduction of public service funding, universal credit and benefit cuts are just some of the factors contributing to alarming statistics. Studies show that women are unfairly impacted, often as second earners or unpaid caregivers. Further, women are more dependent on welfare and benefit schemes than men.

Football

Research found that England’s match losses in previous World Cup tournaments increased incidents of domestic violence by up to 38%. While domestic violence organizations do not deem the matches to be a cause of abuse, they acknowledge the potential for reactions to football matches to aggravate existing patterns. The relationship is complex, with numerous factors involved, and alcohol is likely to be a key component in this, due to the strong presence of alcohol in football culture. It follows that the combination of football culture and alcohol consumption poses a serious risk factor in gender-based violence. Finally, research demonstrates that lower socioeconomic status has an association with an increased tendency towards alcohol-related violence as well as violence in general.

There is an unmistakable trend. The combination of poverty and domestic violence compounded by football culture and alcohol use create a binding force in the increased risk of violence against women.

The 2022 World Cup

While many eagerly anticipate the sporting thrills of the 2022 World Cup in late November, domestic violence against women could escalate after the tournament. The correlation has varied, but domestic violence has regularly increased in World Cup team countries after tournaments throughout the world. A multi-year British study showed abuse increased more when England lost than when England won. While hosting the World Cup in 2017, Russia decriminalized certain types of domestic violence and reduced punishments, which led to an increase in occurrences of domestic abuse.

Qatar, where women have limited freedoms, is this year’s World Cup host. Women in Qatar must seek permission from a male family member before marrying, and when married, they must legally obey their husband. Furthermore, Qatar has no law protecting women from domestic abuse or marital rape. This, of course, prevents many victims from finding justice.

The decision for Qatar to host has already been questioned in regard to controversies surrounding migrant worker exploitation and the country’s lack of support for LGBT rights. However, it may also be time to question the implications of selecting a country so behind on women’s rights and abuse protection to receive such a platform, especially given that football culture can already prompt increases in rates of domestic violence.

Recognizing this threat, international organizations as well as the U.K. government and its largest nonprofit supporting victims of domestic abuse have developed campaigns over the past few years to bring awareness to the grave issue.

Campaigns to Protect Women

In 2020, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU) collaborate to create the #SafeHome campaign to combat the presence of domestic violence in football culture and the rise of such incidents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign involves various videos, with football stars such as Kelly Smith, Oliver Torres and Rosana Augusto offering advice to both victims and perpetrators. It also raises awareness of the scale of this issue. Finally, it highlights the vulnerabilities of unstable financial situations. The #SafeHome toolkit strives to ensure support is accessible to all.

This public appeal for a no-tolerance attitude to domestic violence is part of a four-year-long partnership between FIFA and WHO to keep football culture safe. These efforts will continue during the upcoming World Cup.

The nonprofit Refuge is the U.K.’s largest organization supporting victims of domestic abuse and advocating for protection and funding. Its refuges, community service programs and hotline supported more than 10,000 women and 14,000 children during the 2020 – 2021 pandemic year. It has raised awareness of both the economic vulnerabilities to abuse and the threat of domestic violence surges during football seasons.

The UK’s Domestic Abuse Act

The U.K.’s Domestic Abuse Act of 2021 supports these efforts to combat poverty and domestic violence. It aims to improve victims’ access to support and justice. It broadens the definition of domestic violence to include forms other than physical abuse, such as manipulation, coercion and financial abuse. Crucially, it includes a pledge to give those suffering from domestic violence but lacking stable housing and income priority housing assistance.

Looking to the 2022 World Cup and Beyond

Football culture which economic abuse compounds devastates women and children globally. Thankfully, the recent increased and concentrated efforts of the U.K. government, Refuge and international organizations including the WHO, EU and FIFA are protecting more vulnerable women from poverty and domestic violence. Not only should this increase the protection against a possible surge following the November World Cup, but it should sustain greater awareness and protection far beyond the football tournament itself.

– Lydia Tyler
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Qatar Airways
On June 4, 2017, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with its Gulf neighbor, Qatar, over the latter’s supposed support for terrorism abroad, as well as its close relationship with the Shi’a power of Iran.

BBC reported that the diplomatic crisis not only rocked Qatar’s stock market that lost about 10 percent of its market value in the first four weeks but also stunted the expansion of specific airline company- Qatar Airways. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath, Qatar Airways canceled flights to 18 regional cities and changed flight paths to other destinations due to airspace limitations.

The Impact of Qatar Airways on the Country

The crisis showed the importance of Qatar Airways as both an economic engine of its home country and a transporter of food and other vital resources. Since its founding in 1994, Qatar Airways has spurred its country’s economy, both directly and indirectly, in the following three ways described in detail below.

Economic Engine

Doha’s Hamad International Airport connects Qatar with 150 destinations. To power its massive global operation, Qatar employs 40,000 professionals and as of 2016, it was the fastest growing airline in the world.

As Qatar’s only national airline, Qatar Airways also handles shipments of goods. The diplomatic crisis of 2017, for example, increased prices of elementary goods because Qatar Air Cargo had to take longer routes around restricted airspace.

Trade and Tourism

By branding itself as a world-famous stopover destination, Qatar Airways has influenced Doha’s and country’s tourism increase, spurring economic growth in the process. Ever since 2015, passengers transiting through Doha can participate in the airline’s Discover Qatar, which allows passengers to visit landmarks, including museums, beaches and shopping malls, in Qatar.

These excursions do not only promote Doha’s visibility on the world stage, but also bring foreign money to Qatar’s businesses. Discover Qatar has numbers to back its success. In November 2017, the program hosted 80 leading trade partners. According to Gulf Times, the delegation of trade partners visited the Katara Cultural Village, the Museum of Islamic Art and the stadiums that will host the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar’s emergence as a trade center has prompted its national airline to ease visa restrictions. In Sept. 2016, Qatar Airways worked with the Ministry of Interior to expedite the process for receiving visas, creating an online platform for issuing e-visas. Later in 2017, Qatar launched a free, 96-hour transit visa and extended a visa waiver policy to more than 80 countries. These visa initiatives resulted in an increase of 40,000 visitors in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Charity

The airline has funneled its profits to charitable purposes, both inside Qatar and globally. In 2013, Qatar Airways partnered with Educate a Child, a program that provides primary education to out-of-school children. During the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Qatar Airways partnered with Qatar Charity to deliver toys for 800 orphans in the Children’s Living Center in the Reyhanli province of Hatay, Turkey.

While booking their itineraries on Qatar Airways’ website, travelers have the option of making donations to educational organizations, with donation sizes ranging from $1 to $50. In November 2014, Qatar Airways raised approximately $700,000 to Educate a Child.

Nevertheless, critics worry that Qatar’s subsidization of its national carrier stifles competition. In the decade preceding January 2015, CNBC estimated that the three Middle Eastern carriers: Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad received more than $40 billion in subsidies from their state governments.

The nagging question is whether these subsidies are sustainable in the long run and if the Qatari government will always have money to invest in its airline’s success.

The status quo gives a reason for optimism, with the 2022 Qatar World Cup and Qatar Airways’ aggressive expansion into new markets showing the Gulf state’s promise for the future.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr