Cyberviolence against women
23 janv. 2024Bucharest, Romania 13-15 December 2023
Between 13-15 December 2023, Octopus Conference 2023 took place in Bucharest, Romania. The...
24 nov. 2023Strasbourg 24 November 2023
Violence against women and girls is a rising phenomenon that knows no geographical boundary, age...
20 oct. 2023Strasbourg 20 October 2023
A recent Council of Europe project started in June 2023 on "Combatting digital and sexual...
19 oct. 2023Strasbourg 19 October 2023
1 October 2023 marked the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and...
27 avr. 2023
Role of men and boys in combatting online violence against women addressed at Council of Europe conferenceStrasbourg 27 April 2023
On 27 April, a conference was co-organised by the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Foreign...
17 mars 2023New York 17 March 2023
The sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which took place from 6 to 17...
8 mars 2023Strasbourg 8 March 2023
International Women’s Day is a yearly opportunity to take stock of progress in the field of...
6 déc. 2022Strasbourg 6 December 2022
A conference on digital violence against women was held on 6 December under the Icelandic...
Cyberviolence is an increasing problem worldwide - even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic - and is often gender-based and targeting women and girls. Cyberviolence hampers the full realisation of gender equality and violates women’s rights.
What is cyberviolence against women?
“…all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Istanbul Convention (Art.3)
Violence against women including in an online environment can take many forms: cyberharassment, revenge porn, threats of rape, and can go as far as sexual assault or murder. Perpetrators can be partners or ex-partners, colleagues, schoolmates or, as is often the case, anonymous individuals. Some women are particularly exposed, such as women’s rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, video gamers, public figures and politicians.
Predominantly, the root cause of violence against women and girls is gender inequality (discrimination, gender stereotypes, sexism). Moreover, women who have more than one commonly-targeted characteristic – for example, women of color, members of minority religions, or people who identify as LGBTQ – may be attacked more frequently.
Violence and abuse online may limit women’s right to express themselves equally, freely and without fear. Cyberviolence affects women disproportionately, not only causing them psychological harm and suffering but also deterring them from digital participation in political, social and cultural life.
- Istanbul Convention: Action against violence against women and domestic violence
- Lanzarote Convention - Children's Rights
- Budapest Convention on cybercrime
- Gender equality portal of the Council of Europe
- Recommendation CM/Rec(2019)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on preventing and combating sexism
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) General Recommendation No. 35 "
- European Commission: A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025
Covid-19 and cyberviolence against women
- Council of Europe Campaign: Sexism: See it. Name it. Stop it.
- EU: European Institute for Gender Equality's "Orange the World"
- Joining forces for high-level conference on digital violence against women
- OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media’s SOFJO project focusing on online safety of female journalists
- UK: Online safety bill
What can we do?
Cyber-attacks and violence against women are often not taken seriously. For this to change, states must address cyberviolence as much as any other form of violence against women, using all the tools at their disposal. If states do not act, online freedom of expression is threatened. If, on the contrary, they address online gender-based violence by using the existing international human rights framework, they will make of Internet an open, safe and free platform to exchange ideas.
Set up laws
In addition to the Lanzarote Convention on sexual abuse and exploitation against children and the Budapest Convention on cybercrime, the landmark Istanbul Convention is the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. It requires States Parties to prohibit psychological violence, stalking and sexual harassment. It also calls for preventive measures in the educational sector and ways to be found to encourage private companies and the media to set themselves self-regulatory standards, such as measures limiting any form of verbal abuse of women.
Under the Istanbul Convention, perpetrators should be duly prosecuted and sanctioned. To make this happen in the field of cyberviolence against women, this specific form of violence should be covered by criminal law and should not remain unpunished. It requires easily accessible, safe and specialised online mechanisms enabling women to report abuse to the authorities and obtain both protection and the removal of harmful materials. Law enforcement agencies should be trained to be able to investigate and prosecute cyberviolence more efficiently.
of girls have experienced online harassment
said they experience more online harassment than street harassment
of women who had experienced online abuse or harassment said it was misogynistic or sexist in nature
of women in the UK said it made them feel that their physical safety was threatened
of young women in the European Union had experienced some form of cyber sexual harassment
Online violence against women increasingly targets female journalists
Patrick Penninckx, Head of Information Society Department at the Council of Europe, recalls the importance of implementing available instruments and urges to continue working on this subject.