The Importance Of Taking A Stand
Trigger Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault
As the recent transfer of the football luminary, Cristiano Ronaldo, from Juventus F.C. to Manchester United F.C. caused an uproar in the football world, the decade-old incriminating rape allegations of the sports superstar rose to the surface and created a havoc among the fans. Here to bring the spotlight to this issue is Perspectoverse’s Avani Raj.
“To escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”- Judith Lewis Herman.
This simple but stimulating quote has quite unfortunately taken quite a few rounds in today’s patriarchal society as it recently gained popularity for being the defending argument of multiple rapists. What’s worse is that over the years, stances based on this single statement have actually let some of these rapists go free of charge due to their hold over judicial authorities. Different girls all with the same stories, we have seen it happen countless times whether it was Harvey Weinstien or Jeffrey Epstein.
Yet another example of this gross injustice is star football player, Cristiano Ronaldo who has had sexual assault allegations against him since 2009. On hearing this, a quote, in particular, came to mind. ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is enemy action.’ When there is a pattern of sexual assault, with different women having the same story, one starts to realise that the term innocent until proven guilty becomes more and more difficult to believe.
One of the more public cases involving the former model Kathryn Mayorga who accused Cristiano Ronaldo of rape is claiming £56m in damages. Mayorga claims Ronaldo, then of Manchester United, sexually assaulted her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 after the pair met on a night out. Ronaldo has strongly denied the allegations against him.
Coming to the major problem with innocent until proven guilty and sexual violence- Given the sexual nature of this offence, it will often take place in private, so there are rarely any eyewitnesses present and it will become a dispute of whether or not consent was actually given. The patriarchal judiciary system finds excuses for the perpetrator by stating a lack of evidence, which in most cases, is the fact that the rape was not violent and therefore survivors of sexual assault violence are not believed in court due to this.
Police, along with the court system makes it incredibly difficult for survivors who are already at a disadvantage to come forward. Victims are held against their age, clothes, social skills and much more.
Not to mention Ronaldo, or CR7 as he is more affectionately known, has a huge following of football fanatics, who have been sending death threats as well as commenting absolutely diabolical and disrespectful comments under the victims’ post.
Men, who are in places of power, are more likely to sexual assault women because of this exact reason, they know they will be supported no matter what, again perpetuating victim shaming and rape culture.Victim-blaming attitudes also reinforce what the abuser has been saying all along; that it is the victim’s fault this is happening. It is absolutely not the victim’s fault or responsibility to fix the situation; it is the abuser’s choice. By engaging in victim-blaming attitudes, society allows the abuser to perpetrate relationship abuse or sexual assault while avoiding accountability for his/her actions.
Some examples would be headlines like, “Drunk woman raped”, “Raped woman was wearing a mini-skirt”, and “Woman partying out at night harassed.” What such statements seem to be missing is the fact that rape, like most cases of gender-based violence, is not about sex, but a violent crime about power and control. By choosing to include unnecessary details about the survivor, like her attire, level of inebriation, relationship history, and what time of the night she was out – especially when these details reinforce common victim-blaming mindsets – the media is implying that women who are of a certain “character” are the ones that face gender-based violence. The truth of course, is that women, regardless of whether or not they conform to moral standards set by society, face gender-based violence.
Now the question arises what if this woman is after his money and reputation? Firstly, reports have said only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported, the same percentage as for other felonies. Secondly, texts between Ronaldo and his lawyer, which were leaked clearly confirm the woman’s exact story. He uses vulgar language as well as admits the fact that he saw bruises in her body. His PR team and lawyers have worked very hard to cover and distract people from this text chain, that is great evidence useful for her case in particular. He refers to that time as ‘her being difficult and unwilling to give consent while uncontrollably sobbing’.
Therefore, Cristiano Ronaldo, while he was and still continues to be an inspiration to many of his fans and football fanatics in the past, now is a reminder. A reminder of how influence can curb justice. While he has given his numerous fans and football fans a great number of fond memories, none of that matters as in the eyes of the well-informed, he will always be remembered first, as an alleged rapist and second as a football player.
Written by Avani Raj
Illustrated by Nishtha Dayal and Urvi Agarwal