New campaign calls for women and girls to be included in online safety law

Women 27 times more likely to face online abuse, but are being left out of new online safety laws

Three women at a protest holding signs calling for an end to online abuse and violence against women

Online abuse and violence against women and girls experts have today launched a campaign urging government to include women and girls in new online safety law.

The government’s “world-leading” Online Safety Bill will give social media companies and tech platforms a duty of care to their users. But in its current format, the Bill fails to protect women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by online abuse:

  • Women are 27 times more likely than men to be harassed online (1)
  • 1 in 5 women experience online harassment or abuse (2)
  • Black women are 84% more likely to receive abusive or problematic tweets than white women (3)
  • Online abuse against women and non binary people went up by 46% during the pandemic, and it was even higher for Black women and non binary people at 50% (4)

Glitch, the UK’s leading charity against online abuse, and the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), have today launched a petition calling on the government to explicitly include women and girls in new online safety law.

The petition, supported by survivors of online abuse, demands that the law names and recognises the ways online abuse disproportionately affects women and girls, and especially those who face other forms of discrimination and marginalisation.

Online abuse of women and girls includes image based sexual abuse, cyberflashing, deepfakes, misogynistic abuse, online stalking and harassment as well as many other behaviours. It can also be part of a pattern of behaviour of abuse that also occurs offline. Women are being deliberately silenced and intimidated in the online space. This law needs to bring a stop to this.

Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:

“This new law is meant to make tech companies step up and act. But if the law doesn’t name the problem, then how will tech companies be made to fix it? This is a once in a generation opportunity to allow women to be free and safe from abuse in online spaces, and it cannot be wasted. This law must include women and girls within it.

Seyi Akiwowo, Founder and CEO of Glitch, said

“Women and girls need to feel free to not only survive in online spaces but also thrive. I think it is great that we have a draft law that is looking at regulating tech companies to improve online safety, but there is no mention of women nor gender at all. This law must address how women are facing gender disinformation and are being targeted online.”

References

  1. ​​European Women’s Lobby (2017) Her Net Her Rights – Mapping the state of online violence against women and girls in Europe https://www.womenlobby.org/IMG/pdf/hernetherrights_resource_pack_2017_web_version.pdf
  2. 1 in 5 women experience online abuse. Amnesty 2017 Research https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/more-quarter-uk-women-experiencing-online-abuse-and-harassment-receive-threats
  3. Emily Dreyfuss, “Twitter Is Indeed Toxic for Women, Amnesty Report Says,” Wired, 12 October 2020 https://www.wired.com/story/amnesty-report-twitter-abuse-women/
  4. The Ripple Effect: COVID-19 and the Epidemic of Online Abuse by Glitch UK and End Violence Against Women Coalition https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Glitch-and-EVAW-The-Ripple-Effect-Online-abuse-during-COVID-19-Sept-2020.pdf

Media information

Media spokespeople available for interview, including survivors of online abuse.

Sinead Geoghegan
EVAW’s Communications Manager
[email protected]
07960 744 502

About the organisations
The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a leading coalition of 120 specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists, survivors and NGOs working to end violence against women and girls in all its forms. Find out more: https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/

Glitch is an award winning UK charity here to help end online abuse by making digital citizens of everyone. Through toolkits, resources, reports, workshops and training, Glitch empowers people to act respectfully and justly online. Find out more: https://glitchcharity.co.uk/ 

 

 

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