UN Report Calls for Action on Cyber Violence Against Women

UN Report Calls for Action on Cyber Violence Against Women

73% of Women Exposed to Online Violence

A new report by the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development addressed a growing concern about violence against women and girls (VAWG) online.  Its findings include:

  • An estimated 73 per cent of women have already been exposed to, or have experienced, some form of online violence; and
  • Despite the rapidly growing number of women experiencing online violence, only 26 per cent of law enforcement agencies in the 86 countries surveyed are taking appropriate action.
  • Women in the age range of 18 to 24 are uniquely likely to experience stalking and sexual harassment in addition to physical threats.
  • Nine million women in the European Union’s 28 countries alone have experienced online violence as young as 15 years old.
  • One in five female Internet users live in countries where harassment and abuse of women online is extremely unlikely to be punished.
  • In many countries women are reluctant to report their victimization for fear of social repercussions.
  • Cyber VAWG puts a premium on emotional bandwidth, personal and workplace time, financial resources and missed wages.

“Gamer-gate” targets Anita Sarkeesian and Zoie Quinn were among the participants at the conference that coincided with the report launch.

UN Women’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed:

Online violence has subverted the original positive promise of the Internet’s freedoms and in too many circumstances has made it a chilling space that permits anonymous cruelty and facilitates harmful acts towards women and girls.  We want to reclaim and expand the opportunities it offers. That means recognizing the scale and depth of the damage being done – and taking strong, concerted steps to call it – and stop it.  Abuse online is still abuse, with potency and very real consequences.

The report presents a set of Key Recommendations, proposing a global framework based around three ‘S’s – Sensitization, Safeguards and Sanctions.

  • Sensitization – Preventing cyber VAWG through training, learning, campaigning and community development to promote changes in in social attitudes and behavior.
  • Safeguards – Implementing oversight and maintaining a responsible Internet infrastructure through technical solutions and more informed customer care practices
  • Sanctions – Develop and uphold laws, regulations and governance mechanisms to deter perpetrators from committing these acts.

The full report is below.