New Report: Governments Must Act to Protect Women from Online Violence
Tuesday, December 16, 2014 2:55 PM

A new report published by the non-profit World Wide Web Foundation (“the Foundation”) highlights the deep inequalities and violent threats regularly experienced by women in the online world. The theme of the Foundation’s 2014-2015 report is inequality and the web, including the web and gender inequality. The report cites startling statistics from the Pew Research Internet Project, which found, “25% of women between the ages of 18-24 have been targeted by online sexual harassment, while 26% have been stalked online.” Cyber-violence faced by women online takes a variety of forms including revenge porn, sexual harassment, stalking, and/or threats of physical and sexual violence.

In particular, the report notes that social media can “amplify misogyny and gender-based violence.” However, according to the Foundation’s report, in most countries, “responses to [Information and Communication Technology] mediated violence against women remain wholly inadequate.” Many countries lack clear and comprehensive legal protections for victims of cyber violence. Most (74%) do little to prevent online violence against women or punish perpetrators who use the web to commit acts of violence. Additionally, when governments do act, they often pass laws that are “carelessly drafted and overbroad,” and subject to legal challenge for free speech violations.

The World Wide Web Foundation argues that “[b]etter training and clear, balanced legal guidance for police, courts and online service providers is a priority to ensure an effective law enforcement response” to online harassment and violence against women. The Foundation also said that online services providers have an obligation to improve user policies on cyber violence and to integrate clear respect for women’s rights into their human rights policies.

For a copy of the full report, please see the World Wide Web Foundation’s Web Index Report 2014-15.

Compiled from: Scott, Ellen, Inventor of the Internet Says That Online Violence Against Women is “One of the Tragedies of Humanity”, Cosmopolitan UK, (December 12, 2014).