Sexual Abuse & Harassment Of Women

The increasing reach of the Internet, the rapid spread of mobile information, and the widespread use of social media, has led to cyber violence against women and girls.

This has become a growing global problem with potentially significant economic and societal consequences.

Research by the World Health Organisation shows that one in three women will have experienced a form of violence in their lifetime. Despite the relatively new and growing phenomenon of Internet connectivity, it is estimated that many have already experienced a form of cyber violence since the age of fifteen.

Access to the Internet is fast becoming an economic necessity and is increasingly viewed as a fundamental human right. It is therefore vital to ensure that this digital public space is a safe for everyone, especially women and girls.

Digital Platforms Exacerbate Violence Against Women 

First:    Social media networks can scale up the harassment. With in-person interactions, a single abuser is accurately perceived as one single person; on the Internet, the same individual can create multiple accounts to target the victim.  

Second:    Digital applications have design features that may facilitate cyber violence. Through Snapchat’s map feature, for example, abusers are able to track their victims in great detail. 

Third:   The anonymity provided by social media platforms emboldens users to make abusive comments, and recent studies have shown that women with visible accounts in particular are disproportionately targeted. 

According to recent research, the current trend of cyber crime is largely dominated by crime against the individual - these kinds of crime include cyber stalking, fake ID, nude pictures/videos, email hacking and women are generally more vulnerable to cyber attacks of these kinds. 

The most common forms of social media cyber crime against women are stalking and cyber pornography, distributing images and videos of women engaged in intimate acts, as well as online trolling, bullying, blackmailing, and threats or intimidation, as well as impersonation. One recent study shows that many underaged girls and other female victims committed suicide after their private photos and videos were uploaded on the Internet.

Cyber Security Industry

Sexual harassment is rife in the cyber security industry, with women often reporting being groped at events and or receiving inappropriate content online. According to research by the IN Security Movement, one in four women (26%) have experienced sexual harassment at a cyber security conference, with 12% reporting multiple incidents. The perpetrators of sexual harassers are often hiding in plain sight and work in high-profile positions. Some 35% say their harasser was a senior manager or executive, the global survey of 2,157 women found.

When alerting event organisers of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour, 44% were unhappy with how it was handled. Worse, attempts to report harassment are often dismissed. 

Council of Europe:   Jane Frankland:     JIPIRS:     ITPro:    SSRN:   EIGE:   EIGE:    HG.org:   Middle East Inst

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