The COVID-19 pandemic has not created a new crisis for women’s rights, and for the eradication of all forms of violence against women (VAW), but has instead, exacerbated an already difficult situation in which incidences of VAW – off and online were increasing.
Wolf-whistling, catcalling and groping make up just some of the intimidating behaviour that women experience every day from men. But there is an attempt underway in the UK parliament that seeks to protect women from this kind of “acceptable” misogyny.
Research has shown that there is a correlation between the spread of misinformation relating to the roles, campaigns, beliefs, and actions of women in politics, and the harassment, and abuse which is received as a result.
Protection for all women from abuse, harassment, and threatening behaviours should be a legislative priority and must be forthcoming. The creation of an offence of misogynistic harassment has the potential to mark a significant step in the right direction.
The Internet is a place without challenge nor disruption, and increasingly instances of online abuse and harassment are targeted at women. Little has been done to address the issue, both at a domestic and international level, but also by the platforms themselves.
Despite the growing scale of online abuse on social media platforms, there have been only very limited efforts made by the police to respond to such forms of harassment, and – effectively or otherwise – recognize the potential offence, or take it seriously.
Professor of Law at The Open University Law School, Olga Jurasz, has led the UK’s largest ever study into societal attitudes and experiences of online violence against women and girls (OVAWG) across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the first report of its kind which surveyed 7,500 adults over the age of 16 in February 2023, via YouGov, providing an insight into the societal attitudes of both men and women, and the lived experiences of women and girls across the four nations.