Over the years, with the support of growing research, expanding awareness of experiences and ongoing advocacy from feminist technology groups, we are seeing a broader recognition of online gender-based violence and its impacts, its many variations and how it manifests as a continuum of other forms of gender-based violence. In June 2018, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women released a thematic report looking at “online violence against women and girls from a human rights perspective”. Although this is often referred to as a turning point around this global concern, there has been a significant amount of feminist activism, research and debates in relation to safety and access of these platforms by marginalised people globally. This report and many others since then continue to spotlight the importance for us to assess how online spaces and contexts continue to mirror the gender imbalance or the hierarchy and power we see in the offline space.
One of the shifts we are seeing is the wider usage of a variety of terms under which we understand online gender-based violence. For instance, many organisations have pivoted to using the term “technology-related violence against women” or “technology-facilitated gender-based violence” (TFGBV). In a paper on technology-facilitated violence, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) argues that the nascency of the space on technology-facilitated violence means that we use many terms interchangeably across the globe. Terms like cyber violence, cyber aggression, digital abuse and online victimisation are used interchangeably. They argue that these multiple terminologies make it difficult to differentiate between the politics behind the label and the particular measure that needs to take place. The term technology-facilitated gender-based violence is aimed at broadening what is counted as violence and using technology as a medium to perpetuate violence, whether it is online or through other means like Bluetooth, etc.
Similarly, in 2015, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) created a definition for technology-related gender-based violence that described it as follows: "Acts of gender-based violence that are committed, abetted or aggravated, in part or fully, by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, the Internet, social media platforms, and email."
Continue reading at GenderIT.org.
Illustration by Nadege .