European Commissioners for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová and for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel launched today a campaign to raise awareness on violence that women face online every day. They said in a joint statement:
"Dignity, respect and solidarity apply to all of us, also online. Yet, sadly, reality is far from this, especially for women and girls, who are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than men are.
It is time to step up the response to online violence. We cannot stay idle and encourage those that cowardly target women and girls online. We have to act and call it out.
Women should feel free and comfortable to express their opinions online and to actively participate in public life without feeling intimated.
This is why we launch today the #DigitalRespect4Her campaign. We call on everyone: EU citizens, industry, civil society and policy-makers to work together to ensure respect for women.
Online violence spreads through social media, messaging apps, online forums, video-sharing sites, and videogames. Abusing someone online creates a permanent digital record that can be further disseminated and difficult to erase.
We need to fight online violence together to create an inclusive and respectful online culture. Everyone has a voice, and should be able to use it freely and without fear."
According to an Inter-Parliamentary Union report, 46.9% of female politicians from 45 European countries said they had received threats of death, rape and beatings during their parliamentary term.
Another report of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women shows that 28% of women having experienced online violence reduced their online presence.
The report also found that online violence can lead to psychological, physical, sexual and economic harm. It may silence women and reduce their presence online. Female Parliamentarians targeted with online violence often report becoming more cautious and limiting their online activities.
Self-censorship is likely to restrict women's participation in societal debates, their influence in politics, as well as undermine representative democratic processes.
The #DigitalRespect4Her campaign is supported by public figures sharing their stories and experience with online violence, and how it affected them as women in their professional life.