2022-11-25

Zonta calls for action against digital violence!

November 25 marks the start of 16 days against violence against women, which is recognized worldwide. Zonta participates through the campaign Zonta Says NO. This year, we are particularly highlighting violence that takes place digitally or where the contact between crime victim and perpetrator begins digitally.

Digital violence can take many forms. Of particular concern is when girls and young women are contacted via social media and tricked or forced into prostitution or subjected to other types of sexual abuse. With the help of apps like Snapchat, perpetrators can get right into children's homes. They make promises of rewards or threats and trick children into sending nude photos and videos of themselves. According to the Internet Foundation, 38 percent of girls aged 12–19 have been exposed to unwanted contact attempts on the Internet during the year. In the age group, 21 percent of the girls stated that they had received unpleasant or offensive pictures sent to them by unknown persons.

Another type of digital services are so-called Sugar Dating sites, which contribute to opportunities for the sexual exploitation of minors. On these pages, contacts are made between older men and younger women for sexual relations in return for some form of compensation. According to an investigation by the P1 program Kaliber, minors can post profiles and search for contact on the Sugardaters site without any verification of their age.

Society must take greater responsibility for countering and prosecuting crimes committed against girls and women via digital aids. In the first place, the companies that offer digital services should themselves check that the services do not contribute to abuse taking place. We therefore urge these companies to

  • install filters that prevent images and videos of a sexual nature from being sent via apps used by minors,
  • have filters that can detect and report harassment or pressure using apps as well as reporting suspected crimes to the police,
  • save conversations and user information for a certain period of time so that these can constitute evidence in criminal investigations as well as
  • ensure that minors cannot use Sugar Dating Sites by requiring identification via e-ID.

We also call on the government to investigate how digital violence against girls and young women can be prevented and prosecuted.

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