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Violence against women (VAW) that is mediated by technology is increasingly becoming part of women’s experience of violence and their online interactions. In the same way we face risks offline, in the streets and in our homes, women and girls can face specific dangers and risks on the internet such as online harassment, cyberstalking, privacy invasions with the threat of blackmail, viral ‘rape videos’ and for young women in particular, the distribution of ‘sex videos’ that force survivors to relive the trauma of sexual assault every time it is reposted online, via mobile phone or distributed in other ways. These forms of violence may also be mediated through technology but they cause psychological and emotional harm, reinforce prejudice, damage reputation, cause economic loss and pose barriers to participation in public life. Reporting and responses of these violations are generally limited and the harm and abuse are poorly understood.
VAW that is committed, abetted or aggravated through the use of ICTs and in online spaces are part of the continuum of violence against women and is a significant barrier to women’s and girls’ ability to take advantage of the opportunities that ICT provide for the full realisation of women’s human rights and development.