The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has launched a global campaign aimed at curbing violence against women and girls online.
The agency has teamed up with Rakaya Fetuga, an award-winning poet and spoken-word artist, to create the Bodyrights Movement campaign. She is a spoken-word poet who expresses the impact of online abuse and the concept of Bodyright through spoken-word poetry.
According to the campaign, women, girls, racial and other marginalized groups are undervalued, exploited, and assaulted online. It also emphasizes that business brands and copyrighted intellectual property are better prized and protected more highly compared to online photos of people’s bodies.
The campaign aims to hold policymakers, companies and individuals accountable in the fight against online violence.
“Relentless, borderless, and often anonymous, the online world is the new frontier for gender-based violence. It’s time for technology companies and policymakers to take digital violence seriously. Right now, corporate logos and copyrighted intellectual property receive greater protection online that we do as humans,” UNFPA executive director, Dr Ntalia Kanem said.
The internet is rife with various forms of online violence including cyberbullying, cyberstalking, doxxing, non-consensual sharing of images, and deepfakes.
A report from the Economist Intelligence Units shows that at least 38 percent of women online have undergone some form of harassment while 85 percent have witnessed some form of online violence against other women online.
Out of the total surveyed, 65 percent of women have experienced defamation, cyber-harassment, and hate speech directed at them while 57 percent have experienced media-based abuse where their videos or images are shared across various platforms.
The report shows that 90 percent of the women abused online reported that the vice affected their sense of well-being while 35 percent said they had experienced mental health issues as a result of online violence.
The agency has started a petition, hosted by Global Citizen, requesting meaningful action from governments, lawmakers, internet corporations, and social media platforms to halt digital violence and abuse.