Discussing gender-based online violence at the Stockholm Internet Forum

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A number of challenges in relation to the growing digital trend and the use of online platforms has been discussed at the Stockholm Internet Forum, 16-17 May 2019. One of the topics has been ‘The shifting terrain of gender-based violence online’. Panelists agreed that women are targeted online and are the subject for online harassment and threats, cyberstalking, sexual violence. However, violence against women happening in virtual spaces have serious effects in women’s real lives. Plan International’s research shows that harassment and bullying happening online is gendered the same way when it happens in the “offline world”. Jac sm Kee, manager of Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Women’s Rights Programme, said that there is ‘absolute impunity towards all of these actions because some perpetrators hide under anonymity, arguing that the gender-based violence is difficult to capture due to its constant shifting as technologies emerge. A gender activist, Esther Esperanza, noted that the violence experienced online is just a reflection of what women experience on a daily basis, but more intense because of the opportunity to hide behind fake profiles. Frane Maroevic, Director of the Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, said that there ‘such speech is not necessarily illegal but it is damaging, so how do you deal with this? We need to see how we can work with governments to address these threats to be taken far more seriously.’

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