NOS News•today, 22:31
More than twenty women say they were victims of undesirable behavior at the Grand Prix in Zandvoort. They reported to Formula 1 Women, a club for female fans of the sport.
The reports are about taking unwanted photos and videos, being called after and being touched on the buttocks, breasts and abdomen, according to fan club founder Svenja Tillemans. 25 women have reported to her since Friday.
It is not the first time that visitors to grands prix have been confronted with undesirable behaviour. Last July there were also reports of sexism and racism, especially by Dutch racing fans at the Formula 1 race in Austria.
‘Looked forward to it for two years’
One of the women who were harassed in Zandvoort last weekend is 21-year-old Naomi, who does not want to be called by her last name for privacy reasons. She attended the race with her father. “I had been looking forward to it for two years,” she says. “But after last weekend’s experience, I don’t think I want to go to Formula 1 again.”
That has to do with the comments men yelled at her. “I have inflammations in my knees, so there are plasters on it. I heard men say: ‘She had a nice time on her knees this afternoon’, ‘So, she was busy last night’, and “Oh, you can do without those plasters.” even seeing that it’s a pipe slut’.”
I have never felt so dirty, humiliated and inferior at an event.
Naomi says this happened when she was without her father, such as going to the toilet or getting food and drink. “They really picked out the times when I was alone,” she says. “I have never felt so dirty, humiliated and inferior at an event. And unsafe. That is why we went home as soon as possible after the race.”
‘As a woman alone it seems terrible to me’
The 43-year-old Sara (real name known to the editors) also had to deal with unwanted behavior when she was alone. “When I wanted to go to the toilet, I was not let past, or men called after me: ‘Hey sweetie, where are you going?’ I didn’t feel safe because of that.”
Sara was filmed in the stands. “My husband was away for a while. A song was put on that I really liked, so I went dancing. But then an unknown man took my hand. When I looked up, I saw that his group of friends was filming us. That was very unpleasant. When my husband got back, we left immediately.”
Sara emphasizes that she likes motorsport and that she found the event to be well organised. “I definitely want to go again. But there has to be a man with you. As a woman alone it seems terrible to me.”
Sara and Naomi say they would have liked shelters for victims. Sara: “So you know: if there is something, you can go there.”
Naomi had found a steward to whom she could tell her story. “She took care of me sweetly, but couldn’t do anything for me.” Today she reported her experiences via an email to the organization. She hasn’t had a response yet.
The police are not aware of any reports of sexually transgressive behavior along the Zandvoort circuit. The Dutch Grand Prix says it is aware of one report of undesirable behavior and four reports of other complaints.
A written response states that the organization will not tolerate unwanted and intimidating behavior. “Every incident is one too many. We do everything we can to ensure that all our visitors have a safe and pleasant stay.” For example, the organization deployed stewards, security guards and camera images. There was also an emergency number to which visitors could send a message.
Tillemans encourages that there was such an emergency number. “Women are tired of this behavior. I’m very sorry that this is happening to something I love very much.”