Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights. It is a manifestation of “historically unequal power relations between men and women and systemic gender-based discrimination”1. Gender-based violence occurs in all spheres and spaces of human interaction. The online and digital world, information and communications technology (ICT) are too often misunderstood as separate and distinct spheres of life. However, they are merely a continuation of our “offline” societies, and in that sense, reflect and reproduce the same social norms, stereotypes and structural discriminations. Thus, it is crucial to comprehend gender-based violence as a continuum which unfolds in the same manner and with the same harmful effects online and offline. The CEDAW committee recognized in its General Recommendation 35 the development of “contemporary forms of violence” occurring in the Internet and digital space and redefined through technology2. According to the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), these contemporary forms of violence relate to “acts of GBV that are committed, abetted or aggravated, in part or fully, by the use of information and communication technologies, such as mobile phones, the internet, social media platforms and email3”.
Online violence does not impact everyone equally: women are 27 times more likely to be harassed online than men for instance4. According to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and its consequences, despite the lack of comprehensive data on online GBV, it has been estimated that 23 per cent of women have reported having experienced online abuse or harassment at least once in their life. One in 10 women has experienced some form of online violence since the age of 155.
The forms of online GBV vary from harassment, stalking, threats, mobbing, doxing, non- consensual distribution of intimate images. While most of these forms of violence are not new, per se, the use of technology adds additional difficulties when it comes to the replicability, persistence and scalability of information. Furthermore, technology can facilitate hindering tracing and it that sense gives a sense of impunity to perpetrators of online GBV.
Looking at the survivors’ profile is a reminder that GBV is a continuum and that fighting against it must entail tackling at the same time online and offline violence. First of all, victims of online GBV are most often intimate partners who are subjected to violence by a partner. Perpetrators of intimate partner violence often pursue violence and control through the use of technology. According to a Women’s Aid survey from 20176, 45% of domestic violence victims reported experiencing some form of abuse online during their relationship. 48% reported experiencing harassment or abuse online from their ex-partner once they had left the relationship. ICTs create tools which facilitate acts of GBV. It is important to note that intersecting forms of discriminations can worsen online gender-based violence. We know from previous research that Black women activists or trans women, for instance, are disproportionately affected by online GBV7. It is, therefore, crucial to take on an intersectional perspective when analyzing online gender-based violence.
Public figures, such as women human rights defenders are also more likely to be victims of online GBV. In several instances, online activism has proven to be catalyzing socio-political change. Unfortunately, inequalities remain: women human rights defenders are more likely to be subjected to online smear campaigns, harassment, threats, mobs and trolling. These attacks, aiming to delegitimize and silence WHRDs, are even more present in illiberal and autocratic contexts.
The internet is a civic space which should be accessed and shared equally. As we pointed out, it is unfortunately not the case. Impunity around online gender-based violence must cease. The different forms of online GBV have to be recognized and addressed through legislative means in order to prevent, protect women, girls and LGBTI+ persons from gender-based violence and uphold their rights to expression, information, data protection and privacy.
Violence against women and girls is a key thematic guiding the work of EuroMed Rights’ Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Programme. On that matter, member organisations have requested to learn more and tackle online gender-based violence. In October 2020, EuroMed Rights, in collaboration with the European Women’s Lobby, provided a training on digital safety and online security for the Women’s Rights and Gender Justice’s members. The group now wants to explore the phenomena of online GBV more in-depth, in order to strengthen both their knowledge and advocacy opportunities in their own contexts.
To be discussed with the research consultant.
- I) Online GBV: definitions, facts and figures.
- II) International frameworks.
- III) Analysis of online GBV in the MENA region (including country case studies).
- IV) Challenges, ways forward and recommendations to tackle online GBV in the MENA
The research aims to provide an analytical overview of the phenomenon of online GBV in the MENA Region and from a feminist perspective. The researcher will investigate both key international and country legal provisions with regards to online GBV, their concrete applications and shortcomings. Finally, the research will provide some key recommendations at the UN, EU external affairs and national levels.
Both quantitative and qualitative, including:
- – Desk study including an intersectional analysis of the online GBV phenomenon
(definitions, legal background and socio-political analysis).
- – 6 Interviews with feminist activists, human rights practitioners, survivors and/or
- – Potentially a survey sent to feminist and LGBTIQ+ organisations.
The study should be written in English or French and not exceed 7 500 words (app. 15 pages).
The study will be conducted in close coordination and agreement with EuroMed Rights’ Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Officer and Assistant, in regular consultation with member organisations.
30 October: Deadline for applications.
3 November: contract signed.
3 November – 23 November: desk study and interviews. 23 November: submission of interim report.
25 November: comments and adjustments.
2 December: second draft presented.10 December: publication of the final study in English followed by translations in French and Arabic.
The research consultant is expected to provide throughout their research relevant information that will be used by the programme officer and assistant to draft an online campaign against online GBV. Said campaign will be shared on social media for the 16 days of activism (from the 25 November and until the 10 December, date of publication of the report).
The researcher is expected to work independently and in close coordination with EuroMed Rights’ Programme Officer and Assistant on Women’s Rights and Gender Justice. They will be working remotely.
Please submit your application, including your CV and a motivation letter, to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 October 2020. Applications will be scored according to proven expertise/academic background on gender studies, social sciences and/or Middle Eastern/North African studies, as well as strong research, analytical, writing and editing skills and experience in drafting advocacy-oriented reports. Arabic or French would be an asset.
About EuroMed Rights
About EuroMed Rights EuroMed Rights was founded in January 1997 in response to the Barcelona Declaration of November 1995 and the establishment of the Euro Mediterranean Partnership. It is the coordinating body of about 80 human rights organisations and institutions as well as individuals from over 30 countries. EuroMed Rights’ organisational structure is built on a general assembly, an executive committee, working groups and a secretariat. Rooted in civil society, EuroMed Rights seeks to develop and strengthen partnerships between NGOs in the EuroMed region, i.e. networking aimed at strengthening the capacity of members to act and interact within the context of the region and the Barcelona process and other EU-Arab cooperation frameworks. The EuroMed Rights head office is situated in Copenhagen; we also have offices in Brussels and Tunis. EuroMed Rights aims to ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, gender, marital status, caring responsibilities, sexual orientation, disability or chronic illness.