Qatar’s human rights abuses cannot be ignored

The 2022 World Cup is in full swing, and the world is flaring over the human rights abuses that underlie this year’s tournament in Qatar. 

Qatar’s track record with women’s and LGBTQ+ rights has not been admirable; homophobia and misogyny are recurrent within the country. 

As soon as the first whistle blew on Sunday, Nov. 20 in the first game between Qatar and Ecuador, a facade masked certain Qatari laws in an exceedingly patriarchal system. As reported by UPI, women living in the country must procure a male guardian’s permission to marry, study, drive and travel. Moreover, women’s application for divorce is restricted as wives are expected to obey their husbands and prioritize home-making, yet men can file for unquestioned divorce. Domestic violence and rape are not criminalized, and reporting abuse is often frowned upon. Additionally, sign-off from a male guardian is required on some reproductive health care needs. 

Homosexuality is also criminalized in Qatar; Any LGBTQ+ person may be fined, sentenced to prison up to seven years or worse, be imposed the death penalty. According to the Human Dignity Trust, Qatari law does not allow people to campaign for LGBTQ+ rights either.

The prejudicial social systems have enraged fans across the world. Condemning activists, players and comedians have protested in opposition to Qatar’s insufficient human rights. Joe Lycett, an English comedian, shredded £10,000 in protest against David Beckham (former English soccer player) allegedly signing a £150 million deal with Qatar, according to CNN. Beckham faced immediate back-lash for this deal, and has yet to speak extensively on the subject. 

In November of 2022, The Local DK reported that Denmark’s World Cup squad requested to wear shirts during their training that read “Human Rights for All”, displaying their support for the LGBTQ+ community, which was rejected by The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) due to their policy stating that “equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images”. 

Global impressions of Qatar have never been commendable. FIFA  and Qatar have whitewashed the fraughting dangers of women and LGBTQ+ lives throughout the tournament. 

During a press conference in November, Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, said, “I think that for what we Europeans have been doing in the last 3,000 years, around the world, we should be apologizing for the next 3,000 years, before starting to give more lessons to people”. 

Times have changed; morality, science and common sense have progressed. Still, Qatar’s policies towards human rights are outdated and bigoted. I do not turn my back on the West’s own oppression; The lack of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights is worldwide. Regardless, Qatar’s level of intolerance is inexcusable, and the country’s prejudice puts lives in danger. 

By no means am I criticizing Qatar’s homophobia and sexism, without recognizing that the West has, and does, hold plenty of discriminatory policies as well.

The World Cup has shined a light on the systemic oppression taking place. Since 2010, when Qatar was confirmed as the official host for the 2022 World Cup, controversy has been ever-present. There have been many concerns for migrant workers’ health, freedom and working conditions. Between 400-500 migrant World Cup workers’ deaths have been estimated by ESPN, and many workers have not received their full salary. Since the World Cup preparation began, Qatar has abolished the Kafala system, a widespread power structure used in the Middle East, governing the relationship between migrant workers and their employers. The dismantlement of the Kafala system has influenced new reforms to be taken under consideration, but are still yet to be made. 

Qatar’s violation of human rights is no longer excusable; our dormancy is giving those living under these oppressive schemes no justice. Educating, informing, and protesting for the basic human rights of every living and breathing human on this planet is our duty as citizens of the world.  

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