Gender-based violence in sport: Prevalence and problems

MELANIE LANG, Lut Mergaert, Catarina Arnaut, Tine Vertommen

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    Research question: Little is known about the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV) in sport in European Union (EU) Member States (MS). The research question underpinning this study is therefore: What is the nature and extent of gender-based violence in sport in the EU? Research methods: The study involved a scoping exercise in early 2016 focused on mapping and collecting existing research on the incidence and/or prevalence of any/all form(s) of GBV in sport. This was complemented by interviews with key stakeholders and experts within each EU MS. Results and Findings: 41 studies into (forms of) GBV in sport were identified across 17 countries. Of those identified, none investigated the whole range of behaviours that constitute GBV, so the prevalence of GBV in sport in EU MS is unknown. The most commonly studied form of GBV was sexual harassment, which had a reported prevalence rate of between 1% and 64% due to different methodologies and definitions. This variation is indicative of the challenges of studying GBV, which are discussed in this paper. Implications: The prevalence of (all forms of) GBV in sport is unknown. This means prevention efforts cannot be efficiently targeted and the effectiveness of intervention initiatives cannot be assessed. We recommend the European Commission contract regular research in sport that uses a standardized definition of GBV and a common methodological approach. Questions aimed at measuring the extent of GBV in different settings, including sport, should also be included in existing studies.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Journal for Sport and Society
    Early online date17 Nov 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021


    • Gender-based violence in sport
    • Homophobia in sport
    • Child Abuse in Sport
    • Sport policy
    • Prevalence
    • Violence and abuse
    • Gender

    Research Centres

    • Centre for Child Protection and Safeguarding in Sport


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    • Gender-based violence in EU sport

      LANG, M., Mergaert, L., Arnaut, C. & Vertommen, T.


      Project: Research

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