There’s much being written about the assault on Jenni Hermoso by Luis Rubiales at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final last Sunday. I use the word assault because that is what it was. A man has kissed a woman on the lips forceably and she has stated it was without her consent. She has been assaulted whilst at work as a professional footballer and the images were broadcast live around the world.
In the days since Luis Rubailes has refused to proclaim his sorrow and his defenders have come on TV to say he was “just caught up in the moment.” This is no excuse.
What Luis should have done was to remain professional when congratulating the World Cup winners. If he had done this, none of this story would be ever have been written.
The second best outcome to this would have been Luis immediately apologising without any caveats for his unacceptable behaviour and seeking Jenni’s acceptance of his apology.
What has now turned ugly is that the accuser is defending himself by saying that the victim gave consent and that “feminists are out to get him”.
In any workplace whether it be the World Cup Final in Australia or a factory in Aylesbury there needs to be an expectation that women and men will not receive unwanted attention. That they will not be kissed on the lips. That no one will touch them without their expressed consent.
When something goes wrong, then we should lead with an apology but not expect that apologising makes it OK. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. An apology with caveats is not an apology.
All workplaces should have a zero tolerance for sexual harassment. Soon it will be law that employers will be vicariously responsible for any act of sexual harassment their employees suffer at work. Employers must do more to protect their employees.
And finally this isn’t a female specific issue. Men are also victims of sexual harassment. We should protect everyone regardless of their gender.