Although many people believe otherwise, the Internet is not a lawless land. Virtual harassment against women is a sad reality that moves at a short and slow pace towards a definitive solution and punishment of those responsible.
In general, cyber-violence has frightened many internet users. People believe that because it is about social networks and other means of virtual communication, there are no limits to be respected.
But don’t think that what is said on the net stays only on the net. Besides affecting the psychological wellbeing of thousands of people – especially women who are offended and coerced on a daily basis – it can also be considered a crime.
In other words, if you do any kind of violence against women online, you are just as guilty as someone who does it face to face.
In this article we will show the reality of women in networks with impacting data, which will make you rethink how the internet needs immediate solutions.
What is the reality of virtual harassment against women?
Virtual harassment against women is more latent than you might think. According to research conducted by Plan International with 14000 girls worldwide 58% of girls experienced online harassment. Other 50% experience more online harassment than street harassment.
In other research — Amnesty International survey on woman’s experience — 46% of women experienced harassment sait it was sexist and misogynistic. The sad reality is the girls and women are targeted just for being female, young, LGBTIQ+ and black.
These harassment are facilitated by the internet, mainly social midia, because it is often facilitated by anonymity. Also referred to as “cyberbullying” this nature of harassment can involve:
- spreading rumours;
- defamatory comments
- sexual comments
- sending pornography or other offensive material
- humiliate women
How does online harassment happen?
Virtual harassment against women happens in different ways.
Many are cursed at and have their boundaries crossed simply for being free and posting pictures or opinions on the networks. Others are harassed without any action, with messages making threats or slanders.
The truth is that there is never a plausible motivation. These are problematic people who persecute, who distribute hate in the virtual world and who believe that the Internet is a lawless land.
It is worth remembering that this is a cultural problem in the world, where women are treated as inferior and less qualified for many occasions. In the labor market itself this kind of situation happens quite often.
During online meetings, it is men who cross women’s speech, who micromanage their activities unbridled, and even judge their ability to perform a function without having someone to watch over them.
What are the impacts of cyberbullying on women?
Cyberbullying can cause serious and devastating effects. In some cases can lead to anxiety, depression and suicide.
The main impacts of virtual harassment against women also is illness and fear. Many do not feel protected by the law and prefer to leave the networks so as not to suffer from this type of cyber-violence. In reflection, almost 68% of kids who have suffered virtual harassment have mental health issues.
The segregation of women on the Internet is a huge problem, as it further highlights gender inequality.
Not to mention the fear of leaving home and suffering some kind of violence, of being even more exposed in networks or similar situations. This leads to mental illness, developing problems such as generalized anxiety and depression.
And even if none of these problems are developed, no woman should experience online harassment. It is the least that people should be made aware of and the state should ensure.
How to stop cyber-attack against women?
This is not an easy mission. Virtual harassment against women needs to be built up in different spheres, whether it is friends and family supporting people who have already been victims or important bodies showing solidarity against this type of crime.
First of all, it is important to identify the perpetrators of any kind of cyberattack against women. This person needs to be punished, such as having his or her account banned from the networks or even answer criminally in court.
It is necessary for companies to monitor whether women are comfortable and are not being coerced in the workplace. Especially in businesses that invest in home office, this care must be doubled – since the problem is often almost invisible to superiors.
It is also worth making people aware of the importance of having limits on the Internet.
Although it seems like a free environment, any attitude reflects on people. So, have respect for others.
How can Weni help?
Weni is a company that thinks about social impacts. Virtual harassment against women is not accepted in any way, much less any kind of violence against children.
For this, we help in projects and develop chatbots with AI and accessible technologies that work as a channel for denunciation and information to several publics.
Such technologies are used to inform women, girls and young people about impacts and how to proceed in cases of harassment.
One such project is Big Sis, in partnership with Girl Effect. Big Sis is a chatbot that answers girls’ questions about sexual health. The Weni Platform can also be used for research, where institutions collect data on harassment, cyberbullying, and other topics that need more attention.
Read more about Big Sis and check out how Weni can help em social impact project