Qatar: Rights Abuses Stain FIFA World Cup

The 42-page guide, “,” summarizes Human Rights Watch’s concerns associated with Qatar’s preparations for and hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and outlines broader problems with protecting human rights in the country. The guide also describes FIFA’s human rights policies and how the global football governing body can more effectively address serious violations in Qatar and mitigate harm.

Over 1.2 million international visitors are expected to visit Qatar to watch the 32-team tournament, along with many government and global football leaders. Thousands of journalists will cover the once-every-four-years’ event, and billions of fans will watch on television. FIFA’s partners and corporate sponsors will benefit financially and widely promote it.

FIFA is responsible not just for stadium workers, a minority of the total migrant workforce whose employers are held to higher standards for workplace conditions, but also for workers to build and service projects for tournament preparation and delivery, including transport and accommodations, security, cleaning, and landscaping.

Key labor reforms introduced by Qatari authorities came too late or were too weakly implemented for many workers to benefit.

Qatar’s penal code criminalizes all forms of sex outside marriage, with sentences of up to seven years in prison. If they are Muslim, they can also be sentenced to floggings or stoning. Women have been disproportionately prosecuted, because pregnancy serves as evidence of the so-called crime, and reporting rape can be deemed as a confession. Police often disregard women who report such violence, instead believing the men who claim it was consensual. Any indication that a woman knew the man has been enough to prosecute the woman.

Women are also required to show a marriage certificate to access certain forms of sexual and reproductive health care, including checks for sexually transmitted infections and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, and lack access to emergency contraception.

On November 7, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar’s organizing body for the World Cup, told Human Rights Watch that it will provide shelters and clinics for psychological, medical, forensic and legal support for victims of abuse during the World Cup.

On November 9, FIFA told Human Rights Watch that, “FIFA is confident that women will have full access to medical care, including any care connected with a possible pregnancy, regardless of circumstances and without questions asked about marital status.” The association also said that, “FIFA has been assured that women reporting rape or other forms of abuse will not face any questions or accusations regarding possible consensual extramarital sexual relationships and should not fear repercussions of any form on that basis.”

“Qatar, FIFA and sponsors still have an opportunity to salvage the tournament’s legacy by remedying the migrant rights abuses associated with the World Cup and adopting reforms to improve protections for women, LGBT people, and migrant groups – not just during the World Cup but beyond,” Worden said. “Journalists can help ensure these crucial issues come to light.”

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