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How the Council of Europe tackles online violence against women through the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and the Istanbul Convention

Consultant report prepared under the responsibility of the Secretariat of the Violence Against Women Division of the Council of Europe
Strasbourg 7 December 2021
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How the Council of Europe tackles online violence against women through the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and the Istanbul Convention

As digital technologies have a reproducing and amplifying effect on existing gender inequalities, recent COVID-related restrictions and lockdowns have seen an increase in cybercriminal activities, as people stay online longer. As a result, women and girls are facing multiple risks of online and technology-facilitated sexual harassment, stalking and gender-based cybercrime

Indeed, online and technology-facilitated violence against women are exacerbating the different forms of violence against women that take place offline. Most forms of cyberviolence, including against women and girls, are criminalised but they are expanded, amplified or generalised via the Internet. Even though the impact on victims and on society at large is severe, impunity is more the rule than the exception.

A study was published today by international consultant Adriane van der Wilk under the responsibility of the Secretariat of the Violence Against Women Division of the Council of Europe, titled "Protecting women and girls from violence in the digital age – The relevance of the Instanbul Convention and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime in addressing online and technology-facilitated violence against women." The author argues that the Istanbul Convention and the Budapest Convention can complement each other in dynamic ways: the power of the Istanbul Convention lies in recognising the gender-based nature of violence against women, while the Budapest Convention enables exercise of procedural powers and international cooperation mechanism in relation to cybercrime and any offence entailing electronic evidence. As the most far-reaching legally binding human rights treaty covering all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention can be particularly relevant to address online and technology-facilitated violence against women, while the Budapest Convention is the most relevant international legally binding treaty on cybercrime and electronic evidence and hence provides the potential to prosecute such violence against women. Indeed, the Budapest Convention, through a number of substantive criminal law provisions, addresses directly and indirectly some types of cyberviolence against women.


 Study: "Protecting women and girls from violence in the digital age – The relevance of the Istanbul Convention and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime in addressing online and technology-facilitated violence against women"


 Press release

 Violence against Women Division of the Council of Europe

 GREVIO’s General Recommendation No. 1 on the digital dimension of violence against women (October 2021)


 Istanbul Convention on violence against women

 Budapest Convention on cybercrime


 Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY): Mapping study on cyberviolence (July 2018)


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