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Gender-Based Cyberviolence Is A Huge Issue That We Must Regulate, MEPs Urge

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Sexist hate speech, recording and sharing images of sexual assault, cyber stalking and cyber harassment are just a couple of forms of gender-based cyberviolence that MEPs are trying to tackle in a new legislative report.

“The chilling effect of gender-based cyberviolence often spills over into the real world, which means that it tends to go unreported,” the report said.

All types of discrimination are exacerbated online, they further intersect and thus lead to extreme consequences for vulnerable people like migrant women, minority women, the LGBTQIA+ community and teenagers, the report explained.

“MEPs consider offline and online gender-based violence as facets of the same problem.”

In order to tackle this unregulated issue, which had cases spike during the pandemic, MEPs are calling for a directive to establish a common criminal law definition of gender-based cyberviolence and to harmonise sanctions against offenders.

If this report is implemented, measures to promote and support preventative actions by member states will be established. It also ensures support and reparation for victims.

Aside from the aforementioned forms of gender-based cyberviolence, this new directives wants to protect vulnerable people from: violations of privacy; remote control or surveillance (including through spy apps); threats and calls to violence; inducement to self-harm; computer damage; unlawful access to messages or social media accounts; breach of prohibitions of communication imposed by means of judicial orders and; human trafficking.

A similar report was drafted back in July which wanted to classify online and offline gender-based violence as a crime under EU law and to include it as a new area of crime listed under Article 83(1) TFEU.

The Istanbul Treaty also aims to control such violence, in fact, it looks at tackling the root causes of all forms of gender-based violence and it is considered to be the most comprehensive international treaty addressing this.

It has been in effect for the past 10 years but clearly the issue remains one of disappointing prominence that the EU is desperately trying to control through these numerous directives.

In fact, seven out of ten women have experienced cyber-stalking in their lives.

However, not all member states are too concerned with the endemic that is gender-based violence as was seen in a parliamentary debate in plenary where some MEPs fervently argued against the swift ratification of the Istanbul Treaty and the addition of gender-based violence under the list of EU crimes.

The report was approved with 76 votes in favour, eight against and eight abstentions and hopefully, its specificity will ensure effective guidelines that control these life-threatening problems.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Do you think that the EU should do more to tackle gender-based cyberviolence?

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Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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