Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Women\'s Equality Party Launch \'e-Quality\' Campaign To Protect Women Online

Women's Equality Party Launch 'e-Quality' Campaign To Protect Women Online

The Debrief: The Woman's Equality Party are calling for better education and legislation to ensure women are protected from abuse and harrassment online

Today the Women’s Equality Party have launched a new campaign aimed at protecting women’s rights online. Their ‘e-Quality’ campaign are calling on politicians to refocus the law and collect better data when it comes to the harassment women face online. Their aim is to ensure better protection for women than exists under current legislation.

The Women’s Equality Party are relatively new kids on the political block. They were founded in March last year and the basis of their politics is that women’s equality isn’t a just women’s issue. They believe that when women are able to fulfil their potential everyone benefits from that.

It’s in this spirit that they’ve started the ‘e-Quality’ campaign which is being pushed with the hashtag #CtrlAltDelete. The Women’s Equality Party think now is the time, and indeed it is, to protect women’s rights online properly by insisting on consent for sharing images of a sexual nature and ensuring that women who are abused online get compensation.

They are also calling for better education in schools on the subject of online abuse in order to teach young people ‘that civil rights and human rights apply online as well as offline’ in order to show them ‘what healthy relationships look like.’

Women, from all walks of life, both in and out of the public eye receive abuse online. Nobody, it seems, is immune. Today TMZ are reporting that US police officers are reportedly investigating a series of death threats which have been made by Internet trolls to Taylor Swift and her close circle of friends, including Cara Delevigne and Gigi Hadid.

In related but separate news model Stina Sanders spoke out, also today, about the abuse and sexual harassment she receives online. She told of how she receives between three and five sexual images from trolls each week, with men often having the audacity to send her unwanted and unsolicited messages about ‘what they’d like to do’ to her.

That’s two different stories which demonstrate the range of abuse received by women in the public eye online, both from just one morning. The number of women, on any given day, who are being subject to abuse and/or harassment in some shape or form on the internet is untold. The Women's Equality Party point out that there is very little data, in particualr, about the specific kinds of online abuse that BME, LGBT+ and disabled women are subjected to.

As such the Women’s Equality Party is also calling for better monitoring and data on online abuse as UK figures are poor. They point out that available data suggests children as young as 11 are victimised by revenge pornography and that 75-90% of revenge porn victims are women.
●       1 out of 10 of ex-partners has threatened to post naked images of their exes online. 60% of them carry out the threat

●       93% of victims suffer significant emotional distress

●       49% of victims are harassed or stalked online by someone who saw the material

●       At least 3,000 pornography websites around the world feature a revenge porn ‘genre’.
Indeed, figures released last month from 31 police forces following an investigation by the BBC revealed that most offences of revenge porn do not result in a criminal charge. There were 1,160 reports of revenge porn between April and December 2015, made to 31 police forces in England and Wales. However, 61% of those resulted in no action being taken.

Revenge porn became a criminal offence in April 2015 and while it’s great the the law is finally on the side of those who are victims of such abuse, we still have a long way to go in terms of protecting them. Surely with proper education and legislation, as the Women’s Equality Party are calling for, we could ensure that perpetrators understand that any kind of online harassment or abuse is completely unacceptable and will be treated as such by both the justice system and website providers.
The Women’s Equality Party’s leader, Sophie Walker, told The Debrief ‘as WE lay out our policy plans, WE call on all political parties to set aside their differences and work with us to deliver digital legislation that works, so that the Internet is safe and fair for all.’

'We had always planned to go out later this year with a big campaign on sex education in schools. So, we thought how do we take action on this now? Politics isn’t just about parliament, it's also about building movements for change. That's why we are calling for cross-party action on this. There's a lot to be done when it comes to women's rights offline, but when you look at womens rights online the situation seems to be even worse. There seems to be an ingrained acceptable that this is' just how things are'. That needs to change’

She went on to say that while the current law on revenge porn is a step in the right direction it has been found wanting, as the lack of prosections demonstrates. 'The current revenge porn law isn't working, it's ineffectual. It needs more focus on consent for instance and anonymity for victims. We think if we can get the template with this law then we can start to build on that and build proper legislation around online harassment.'

You might also be interested in:

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Tags: Online chat, Politics, revenge porn