Online violence against women: Experts call on politicians to act

Cyberflashing, bodyshaming, doxing: because women are constantly exposed to new forms of violence on the Internet, a Council of Europe panel of experts is calling on European governments to act. The group of experts against violence against women and domestic violence (Grevio) said in Strasbourg on Wednesday that there are “serious loopholes” in the national laws. This Thursday is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

A large proportion of domestic violence victims also experienced online violence in their relationship, it said. Many women also reported online attacks from their ex-partner after a breakup. Cyberflashing is the sending of unwanted photos with sexual content. In bodyshaming, victims are attacked for their appearance. In doxing, the perpetrators publish their personal data online without consent.

Legally available tracking software, which perpetrators can use to track the private lives of their victims, is also a growing problem, according to the panel. Such software enables, for example, access to contacts, call data, photos, SMS and even information on the current whereabouts – all without the monitored woman knowing about it.

Specifically, the committee recommends a revision of the laws to protect women online, better access to offers of help, more education and better training of security authorities on the subject of online security.

The expert group monitors compliance with the Istanbul Convention in 34 countries that have already ratified the agreement. The convention was drawn up by the Council of Europe in 2011. The signatory states undertake to prevent and combat violence against women and to create a legal framework for this. Turkey withdrew from the convention a few months ago.

Affected women can contact us by phone on 08000 116 016 or online Help line of the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society Tasks turn around.


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