Leading women’s organisations have today (2nd December 2021) launched joint asks for an online safety law that addresses the abuse of women and girls, as new figures show almost three quarters of the public think the government should do more to ensure social media platforms address online harassment and violence against women and girls.
Experts in the violence against women and girls (VAWG) sector have set out a series of recommendations for the new Online Safety Bill – demanding that the law names and addresses the online abuse of women and girls, who are currently left out of the legislation.
In a report out today, the organisations highlight how the threat of online abuse results in women and girls self-censoring, avoiding certain online platforms and losing opportunities – for socialising, work and learning. This has dangerous implications for freedom of expression and the future of online spaces.
This comes as YouGov data commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition reveals that 74% of people think government should do more to ensure social media platforms address online harassment and violence against women and girls. This figure increases to 78% of women respondents. (1)
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) said:
“The Online Safety Bill is being heralded as “world leading” and a once in a generation opportunity to address harms on the Internet, but as it stands the new law will be wasted if it doesn’t take into account the realities of women and girls’ lives online.
It is a fact that online spaces hold much higher risks for women and girls, particularly Black and ethnic minority women and girls, who are disproportionately targeted with abuse.
These recommendations come from experts in online abuse. The government must heed their advice or half the population will continue to face threats of abuse that restrict their freedoms online.”
Last week on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence released its first recommendation on the “digital dimension” of violence against women.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition urges the UK Government to follow suit and ensure new online safety legislation is robust and addresses the daily harms facing women and girls.
The VAWG Principles for the Online Safety Bill briefing is produced by #NotYourPorn, The Angelou Centre, Chayn, Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), Faith & VAWG Coalition, Glitch, Imkaan, Professor Clare McGlynn, Rape Crisis England & Wales, Refuge, Welsh Women’s Aid and Women’s Aid Federation of England.
A launch event will be held today (Thursday, 2nd December 2021) at 1pm. The panel includes:
- Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee
- Debbie Abrahams MP, member of the Joint Select Committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill
- Georgie Matthews, campaigner and survivor of online abuse
- Nima Elmi, Head of Public Policy (Europe), Bumble
- Professor Clare McGlynn QC Hon, Durham Law School, Durham University
- Jasmine Mohammad, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Services Manager, The Angelou Centre.
The launch comes the day after The End Violence Against Women Coaltion and Glitch launched a petition calling on government to ensure any new law tackles the online abuse of women and girls.
Notes to Editors
- Figure from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,699 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th – 28th October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
Spokespeople available for comment.
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