By Pamela Lilleston
The growth of the Internet and social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook, has changed the way we communicate. While these changes have created new opportunities for people to connect and access information, they have also created new spaces for violence and new types of violence.
Worldwide, “cyber violence”, or abuse that occurs on and through the Internet, is emerging as a pressing issue that compromises people’s safety and well-being. And while anyone can be subject to cyber violence, women and girls are disproportionately affected and are often made targets based on their appearance and sexuality.
Although media stories about cyber violence are increasingly common, we know very little about the problem, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where connectivity and internet usage are growing rapidly. Further, our ability to compare experiences of cyber violence across settings and to create programs to prevent and respond to the issue is impaired by a lack of common measures to document and understand the phenomenon.
On April 18, ICRW will receive an award from the World Bank and the Sexual Violence Research Institute, which included funding to help build the evidence-base on gender-based cyber violence. Our study will develop a set of standard measures to capture the phenomenon, and to better understand how it impacts women and men differently. This will give researchers and practitioners the tools to better understand cyber violence across settings and populations and provide a first step towards creating the necessary evidence to inform programs and policies that seek to prevent and respond to this threat.
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