By Ifeanyi Ogbonna
Mason Greenwood, a twenty-year-old footballer for Manchester United was arrested on suspicion of rape, sexual assault, and threats to kill after his former girlfriend, Harriet Robson, leaked videos and pictures of him on social media supposedly perpetuating these acts. This is not completely unusual in the professional football community, as there are numerous other examples of players being accused, arrested, and even convicted of different forms of sexual violence. These all highlight the persistent problem that remains in our society – domestic violence against women.
It is crucial especially for young women to understand what counts as sexual assault/abuse. In England and Wales, the legal definition of sexual assault is when someone intentionally touches another person in a sexual manner without that person’s consent, and the touching can be with any part of the body or anything else.
Sexual assault and sexual violence, in general, is not something that is spoken about enough in our late childhood/teenage years, and adulthood is too late to begin these conversations. Not only is this because it would make women and men more aware what constitutes these actions, but research shows that the more we talk about this before adulthood, the less likely it is that abusive dynamics will occur. Two places are crucial for these discussions to happen: the home and school. If we have these uncomfortable conversations in places where they are not normally held, this will go a long way to beginning to tackle this large problem.
The reason why it is important to highlight Mason Greenwood and other footballers is because perhaps when these acts are perpetuated by people of great influence or fame women may feel pressured to keep quiet or intimidated.
Whilst looking at tackling the causes, we also must address the punishment one receives for these acts. The current maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years, with the offence range being 0-7 years. This does not go far enough, but education whilst in custody about sexual violence could be compulsory.