This Week in Women: Fighting Sexism at the World Cup

This Week in Women is part of a series produced in partnership between Ms. and the Fuller Project for International Reporting. This column is also part of a newsletter; sign up here to receive it regularly.

Women at the World Cup

This Sunday, I’ll be joining the more than 1 billion people expected to watch a super exciting 2018 World Cup final: Croatia vs. France. Sport aside, it’s time to talk about how this global event is affecting women.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that anti-discrimination experts advising FIFA determined that sexism has become a bigger problem than racism at this year’s World Cup, hosted in Russia. Many female journalists covering the match have been harassed on the job; here’s a video of one example. FIFA is urging broadcasters to stop cutting away to “hot” women fans as one strategy to end a culture of chauvinism.

Domestic violence also increases during the World Cup, regardless of whether a country’s team wins or loses. Last month, Nigeria stopped human traffickers trying to send 10 children to Russia for exploitation.

Soccer has come a long way in shaming and ending what was once widespread and accepted racism among fans in the sport, with advertising and a rule to close down stadiums of European clubs that engage in racism. Where’s this push to stop sexism? Players: female fans want to hear your voices.

Off the field, world leaders gathered at the NATO summit this week—and talk is dominated by which countries should spend more on military defense. The Atlantic Council made a strong argument that women should be at the top of any agenda grappling with terrorism. The Pan African Weekend in NYC also kicked off last night, with the women’s forum bringing together top women business leaders from the black diaspora community.

Sexual harassment revelations about powerful men, meanwhile, continued to surface around the world this week. A Chinese professor was removed from his job after his female students went public—and the leader of one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the West stands accused of widespread sexual abuse and harassment of followers.

And in Nottingham, England, misogyny got its fair labeling as a hate crime.

Other Headlines From the Week

In the U.S. this week, President Trump announced a new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and many are unclear on what this could mean for Roe vs. Wade, which Vice President Mike Pence told CNN on Tuesday that he would like to see overturned. We’ll see in November how U.S. women are feeling about President Trump’s policies, but the New York Times reported that even some who voted for Trump seem to be shifting their support to the Democrats.

An Iranian teenage girl was arrested and jailed for dancing. The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, who spent a year and a half in an Iranian prison, writes that it’s just one more example of Iran’s war on women.

The journey to the U.S. border is perilous for LGBT migrants—particularly trans women—as they face harassment and abuse along the way, writes Jose A. Del Real. These immigrant women wrote anonymous letters from inside detention centers where they had been separated from their children, describing weeping mothers and harsh conditions. ICE told CNN it could not respond to the specific claims without knowing the identities of the writers and where they were being held. One immigrant mother has taken the lead on a lawsuit against the United States government over the administration’s “zero tolerance policy” that separated parents from their children at the border.

The mayor of a Lebanese town ordered women police officers to wear short shorts.

A new law in India that mandates paid time off for maternity leave has an unintended consequence. As many as 12 million Indian women could lose their jobs, writes Namita Bhandare in Foreign Policy.


Christina Asquith is former editor for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World and founder/editor in chief of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, which contributed this story and which works with Peace Is Loud on women, peace and security issues.