Broncos fan captures moment she was sexually harassed leaving NRL game

An NRL fan has shared disturbing footage of the moment she was threatened with sexual violence after leaving a recent game.

Brisbane woman Hayley Mabbett was travelling home from Suncorp Stadium when a car filled with men slowed beside her and began to hurl abuse – which she inadvertently caught on camera.

While the 32-year-old ignored their harassment at first, “then they proceeded to yell something very clear: ‘You better be going home, or I’ll rape you’”.

QLD Woman sexually harassed on way home from NRL game

The driver of the vehicle then revved the engine and sped away.

In the video, a visibly-shaken Ms Mabbett asks: “Did you just f**king hear that? (The people in) that car just said ‘I’m going to rape you’.”

For Ms Mabbett, who reported the matter to local police, the incident was all too familiar – as it is for many women. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last year revealed 1.3 million women reported being sexually harassed across a 12-month period.

Nearly all said the perpetrator had been a male.

“There have been many instances in the past. Unfortunately it’s not unusual, but I’ve never been able to capture it on video before,” Ms Mabbett told the ABC.

“There are still some men out there who think behaviour like that is OK, but even if it is a joke, it is not OK.”

Ms Mabbett said she now feels too unsafe to use public transport to head to the football on her own.

“I don’t feel safe walking in my neighbourhood. I’ll organise parking or I’ll Uber, which can be very expensive,” she said.

Again, Ms Mabbett’s is a consensus shared by many women. More than one million women said they did not use public transport after dark because they felt unsafe, according to the ABS. A further 2.2 million women said they avoided walking in their local area alone after dark because they felt unsafe doing so.

It’s crucial to note that, in Australia, women face the greatest risk of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in the home and other private locations. This year alone, one woman has been killed every four days, allegedly at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.

Yet the spectre of a monster lurking in the shadows – stalking and ambushing us as we make our way through the world – continues to feed into our deepest collective fears.

National Women’s Safety Alliance executive director, Katherine Berney, described the harassment Ms Mabbett faced as “horrifying”.

“I can’t imagine the fear that this individual felt when confronted by really credible threats of sexual violence,” Ms Berney told the ABC.

“They were doing what is considered completely reasonable, walking home from a train station at night after a football game.

“That’s not an unusual activity, yet here we have a young woman with a credible threat of sexual violence that she managed to catch on camera.”

Ms Berney said given the circumstances in which Ms Mabbett had been harassed – after a football game – it was on sporting codes like the NRL to call such behaviour out.

“I do feel sporting codes have an ethical responsibility,” she said.

“Have a consistent message that behaviour like this is completely unacceptable and not the expectation of that code from their fans.

“I need them to take responsibility and to say we absolutely denounce this behaviour.”

The direct correlation between competitive sports and unhealthy expressions of masculinity is well-documented; a 2018 study by La Trobe University found domestic assaults increased, on average, by more than 40 per cent in NSW on the nights of State of Origin games.

Meanwhile, the AFL Grand Final in Victoria consistently brings with it spikes in acts of intimate partner violence.

“I would like to know how much money the NRL, AFL and other large sporting leagues have invested in prevention and frontline support services for the partners and families of fans,” Teach Us Consent founder, Chanel Contos, wrote in a piece for last weekend’s The Saturday Paper.

“Why is it okay one of the most dangerous nights in Australia to be a woman or a child is the night of a sporting grand final?

“We have double demerit points for driving offences on long weekends and public holidays because of a known correlation between accidents from drink driving and celebration. What double reinforced penalties or safety measures are implemented on nights when men congregate en masse?”

In a tribute to the women who have lost their lives to gender-based violence, last week the AFL held a moment’s silence before each of its Round 8 games.

“When it comes to violence against women, the only acceptable figure is zero,” AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said when announcing the “activation”.

“We … understand our industry still has work to do, but we are committed to continuing to educate, to take action, and even more conscious of that, we must work harder than ever. All men are responsible for doing better.”

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