The woman who started one of the fast-growing Change.org petitions of all time, urging Oldham Athletic not to sign unrepentant convicted rapist Ched Evans yesterday, has received hundreds of messages of abuse on Twitter in less than 24 hours.
But Jean Hatchet, who uses a pseudonym to help ensure her personal safety told i100.co.uk she could handle the trolls because “Evans’s poor victim is still living a life of horror and she possibly will for the rest of her life”.
“I’ll take the hit because somewhere out there there’s a woman being hounded relentlessly every time a club offers to sign Ched Evans,” Hatchet said. "She’s had to move home five times, and change her name three times.”
The majority of abuse comes from young men who all have a similar message. “There are a variety: sometimes it’s very direct and personal, ‘you’re ugly, you can’t get a man’ or ‘shut up, you’re a slag’, ‘you’re fat’, ‘you’re a lezza’. I can take those all day long, they don’t bother me. Some of the other messages are more worrying: they are men who don’t understand about sexual violence.”
Since being released from prison in October after serving half of his five-year sentence for rape, Sheffield United, Tranmere and Hartlepool have all turned down the opportunity to sign Evans. This morning it was reported Oldham are re-considering moves to take on the player, having cancelled plans to hold a press conference announcing his signing, after a public backlash and the success of Hatchet’s petition.
The backlash Hatchet has faced from Evans’s fans is not new to her. Last year she was targeted by Twitter trolls and threatened with rape after starting a separate Change.org petition against Evans’s former club Sheffield United re-signing him.
It escalates everytime there is news about Ched Evans being signed. I’ve seen it all before and this is why I keep going. There are so many men with the view that women should just be quiet about sexual violence. I’m a feminist, you don’t expect it’s going to be nice. If you stand up and say ‘I want a safe world for women’ a lot of men aren’t happy with that. It’s expected and I have to keep going through it because otherwise I would be a coward. I will not back down from bullies.
And Hatchet has emphasised her petitions are a protest against rape “culture" rather than Evans himself. “It is about objecting to a pervasive rape culture which we have. To have a very high profile player representing that rape culture simply by not acknowledging his guilt, not apologising to his victim. That is why he is the figurehead of this. I don’t personally want to bring down just this one man,” she said. “I want all rapists to stop raping.
"Every time a club offers a rapist a contract it actually says ‘we don’t care about raped women’.”