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Online abuse against women on Human Rights Council agenda

Discrimination Sex Discrimination

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has told the United Nations Human Rights Council that Australia is taking steps to protect women and girls against online harassment and abuse.

Speaking via video link to the HRC 38th session in Geneva, Commissioner Jenkins said online platforms present enormous opportunities to advance gender equality.

“Online platforms can be a powerful tool for women to increase their social connectedness, and improve their economic security and access to information.

“The #MeToo movement has shown us the power of collective voice to spotlight the harm of sexual harassment.”

Commissioner Jenkins also detailed how perpetrators of violence against women are using technology to harass their victims.

“Sadly, in Australia, we see social media being used to subject women who advocate on women’s rights issues to online harassment and abuse.

She highlighted research conducted by Amnesty International which found that 30% of women surveyed had experienced online abuse or harassment, and 40% of women said the online abuse was misogynistic or sexist in nature.

Commissioner Jenkins told the Human Rights Council that the results of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s fourth national survey on workplace sexual harassment will for the first time, provide data on the prevalence of sexual harassment through technology and online platforms.”

Commissioner Jenkins’ address to the HRC follows the announcement this week of a National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment at Australian workplaces.

The Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry will speak with individuals and organisations from all over Australia about their experiences.

It will also examine the use of technology and social media to perpetrate workplace-related sexual and sex-based harassment.

Commissioner Jenkins acknowledged the Australian Government’s commitment to addressing technology-facilitated violence against women, including the Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer’s recently convened meetings with the eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Instagram.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission remains committed to working with government and other stakeholders to ensure women human rights defenders are guaranteed meaningful participation in public debate.” Commissioner Jenkins said.