FIFA has urged police in Qatar not to treat women who report rape or sexual assault during the World Cup as criminals, a new report has found.
Pregnant women are also “not allowed to make accusations” and must receive medical attention if necessary, according to guidelines from the football organization’s security team.
Meanwhile, officers have been ordered not to approach, arrest or prosecute anyone who “displays the rainbow or other flags of sexual identity” and “shows signs of affection”.
However, the Qatari group responsible for planning and running the tournament said the document was not developed or approved by them or any government agency in the host country.
The memo appears to be an attempt to override Qatar’s laws, which severely curtail women’s freedoms — and perhaps even punish those who are sexually assaulted.
Sex outside marriage is a crime in Qatar and victims of rape or sexual assault can be charged with sex outside marriage, although this is at the discretion of the prosecutor.
Paola Schietekat, 28, who worked for the World Cup organizing committee, was accused of having an affair when she reported a sexual assault last year, the Daily Mail reports.
She was charged with “having sex outside of marriage”, although she told authorities that a colleague broke into her home and assaulted her.
The man was acquitted, but Ms. Schietekat fled the country and risked up to seven years and 100 lashes. The case against the Mexican was dropped in April.
It is illegal to be pregnant and single in Qatar and women are advised not to seek medical advice if they are single and may be pregnant.
Women must also obtain permission from their male guardians to marry, study abroad on government scholarships, work for many government agencies, travel abroad up to a certain age, and receive certain forms of reproductive health care.
The memo from FIFA’s Security and Safety Operations Committee (SSOC) outlines how police should respond to different scenarios during the World Cup.
It tells officers, “Women will not be charged if they report rape or sexual harassment.”
Aimed at pregnant women in need of a doctor, it says they should be treated “regardless of the circumstances and without accusation”.
The document urges police not to crack down on clothing, amid reports claiming it was an American journalist Arrested for wearing a T-shirt with an LGBTQ+ rainbow on it.
It comes after England scrapped their plan for Harry Kane to wear the OneLove bracelet after FIFA threatened yellow cards and fines.
Wearing the anti-discrimination bracelet in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are a criminal offence, would have been an important step.
In the memo, FIFA said fans who “exhibit intimate body parts may be asked to put their clothes back on”.
Footy fans could also “start impromptu marches in streets and malls” and “stand on tables/chairs/benches and sing a fan song” in public without fear of prosecution.
Qatar’s top committee has reportedly said it is “aware” of the document.
However, it was clarified that it “has not been developed or approved by the Supreme Committee or any other body of the State of Qatar”.
Metro has contacted FIFA and the Qatar Supreme Committee for further comment.
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