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Here's why the Irish team will be wearing white ribbons on Monday night

A global movement campaigning for an end to gender-based violence against women is underway.

Sean Cooke (CEO of Men’s Development Network), Mick McCarthy and Mark Khan (White Ribbon Engagement Officer at Men’s Development Network).
Sean Cooke (CEO of Men’s Development Network), Mick McCarthy and Mark Khan (White Ribbon Engagement Officer at Men’s Development Network).

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland have teamed up with the Men’s Development Network for Monday night’s match with Denmark.

Ahead of World Ribbon Day — a global movement campaigning for an end to gender-based violence against women — on 25 November, the Irish team will line out at the Aviva Stadium wearing a white ribbon, signalling their support for the initiative, during the national anthem.

There will be a bucket collection at the game and a text-to-donate line on the big screens at the ground to promote the issue.

The campaign seeks to encourage Irish men take the White Ribbon Pledge promising never to commit, excuse or remain silent about men’s abuse against women.

White Ribbon is led by the Men’s Development Network in Ireland — a national charity which aims to better the lives of men to bring about a better society for all. Along with male perpetrator-focused programmes, it also works on programmes that support male victims of domestic abuse, as well as mental health and physical health-focused education programmes.

Mark Khan, White Ribbon Engagement Officer at Men’s Development Network said: “The research tells us that each time there is a major sporting event, there is a large spike in domestic violence towards women often when alcohol use collides with a team loss.

Current statistics reveal a hard truth that more than one in five women have experienced gender-based violence, but only 20% of these crimes are reported, yet perpetrators are almost always known to the victim. This indicates that women we know — perhaps our family members, our friends, our colleagues — are in need of more support.

“Reports also allow us to identify a correlation between major international sporting events and an increase in the purchase of sex. Men may not always know that they are being complicit in sexual violence in these instances and if that is the case, we want to make it clear that these incidents likely involve the exploitation of vulnerable women who have likely been trafficked and are forced to sell sex by criminal elements.

“The Men’s Development Network believes that sports organisations have an important role to play in changing attitudes and behaviours and that all men, be they guilty of gender-based abuse or not, can be part of the solution by committing to the White Ribbon pledge.

With this in mind, we enthusiastically welcome the leadership shown by the FAI in forging our partnership. The Irish Squad are role models, and so their taking a stand against gender-based violence will deliver a powerful message to a huge number of men that behaviours such as verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual coercion, the purchase of sex and harassment are unacceptable, and their support will encourage all men to think about how we collectively can and need to do better.”

Noel Mooney, interim CEO of the FAI, added: “The FAI is proud to support the Men’s Development Network. It’s important that as one of Ireland’s leading sporting organisations, which represents both male and female athletes, we make our stance on gender-based violence known to fans.

“Our players wearing the campaign symbol, the white ribbon, ahead of kick-off, is a powerful statement to all our supporters that we wholly support the end of violence against women and want to use our platform to create a momentum for change and encourage fans to take the White Ribbon pledge to better understand gender-based violence, be more aware of their actions and speak out when they know that abuse has taken place.”

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