Over the past 25 years, there has been an explosion of digital technologies and online platforms, all of which were envisioned to be good and helpful societies. These developments have indeed led to astounding improvements in scientific, medical, educational, cultural and individual advances. And yet, there is a much darker side to these advances. At any given moment, someone you know may be experiencing online abuse, it can be isolating and all-encompassing, creeping from one online platform to another and reaching into all aspects of life.
Technology Facilitated violence and abuse, (TVFA), includes actions perpetrated online and offline. For example cyberstalking, forcing a person to pose for or send unwanted sexual pictures, the distribution of sexually explicit photos without consent, cyber flashing, sextortion and other forms of harassment and abuse.
The scale of the current situation is alarming:
- Women are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than men
- 1 in 5 women in the United Kingdom has been subjected to online harassment or abuse
- Black and minoritized women and non-binary people were more likely to report enduring increased online abuse during COVID-19, with 38% saying that the context of the pandemic had led to increased online abuse
- 1 in 7 young women has experienced threats to share their intimate images or videos
- 85% of women who experienced online abuse from a partner or ex-partner said that it was part of the pattern of abuse they also experienced offline.
The problem itself has many different factors which we need to work together to address namely:
- When technology develops alarmingly fast, it is important that we appreciate and understand its full ability and ensure that measures are in place to prevent harm.
- We need to work together to ensure accountability and champion legislation, such as the UK’s Online Harms Bill.
- We need to focus on Increasing awareness and understanding of the impact of online behaviours
- With urgency, we need to improve the response to online harm
Today, Pamela Zaballa, Global CEO of the NO MORE Foundation will be addressing the Commonwealth Rule of Law Conversation Seminar Series on Cybercrime and Online Violence Against Women, Girls and Children. Along with leaders from the Commonwealth, UN Women, Get Safe Online and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
At NO MORE, we are constantly asking ‘What can we do’, with the aim of inspiring activism and fueling cultural change.
At NO MORE, we are encouraging people to improve their understanding of what online harmful behaviours are, the level of trauma they can cause, to report abuse and to demand change. We create and deliver education programs for young people and parents about online harm and we work closely with the private sector, especially tech companies, providing advice around safeguarding, safety and end-user support. And critically providing opportunities for the voice of survivors to be heard – they have the knowledge and experience we need to tackle this epidemic.
There is no one solution to address cybercrime and online abuse. It will take time, dedication, determination and flexibility to work collaboratively. We at NO MORE are honoured to participate in this critical conversation. Our desire is to truly inspire awareness, listen to the victims of abuse, and transform this knowledge into change. Cybercrime and online abuse must be addressed in a holistic and collaborative manner if we are truly going to inspire NO MORE sexual and domestic violence.
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