Local research, resources needed to address online violence against women in the Pacific

Saturday, October 1, 2022
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On 27 September 2022, the Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) hosted a virtual Learning and Networking event on online violence against women and girls in the Pacific. This form of violence is also often referred to as 'online gender-based violence' or 'OGBV'.

Featuring a Q&A, small group reflection sessions and an expert panel discussion moderated by Kira Osborne, Senior International Development Officer and Pacific Lead at Australia’s Government eSafety Commissioner, the event explored the prevalence, challenges, gaps in data, and effective strategies to address OGBV, as well as priorities for policy, program and legislation reform.

Key insights shared with Australia Awards scholars and attendees during this panel discussion are outlined below. An audio recording and summary paper on the discussion are also available.

The panel

Panelists were linked by their professional interest and work with women who occupy and experience abuse in online spaces. Bringing perspectives from a range of fields - academia, law, online safety, children’s rights, technology and policy - panelists included:

Key OGBV statistics and features

OGBV takes many forms and is often intersectional in nature, meaning that women from diverse and vulnerable communities are disproportionately (and often more severely) impacted.

It can include Technology-Facilitated Abuse, in which technology is used within a family violence context to isolate, monitor, stalk, impersonate, harass, threaten or humiliate someone.

It also includes abuse against women with a public or online presence, in which perpetrators attempt to silence women through often sexually violent, harassing and repetitive attacks.

According to panelists, rates of OGBV are increasing globally, with spikes experienced during COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation. This violence is disproportionately targeted at women and thrives where gender inequality is already well entrenched.

Almost 60% of girls worldwide have experienced some form of online sexual harm. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit indicates that 85% of women globally have witnessed OGBV.

Research available on the Australian experience of OGBV (including through Women in the Spotlight; an eSafety Australia analysis of available data) indicates that almost one quarter (24%) of all women and almost half (42%) of women with a disability who had experienced online abuse noted they were reluctant to move into leadership positions because it would require them to have a media / online presence. 

Key insights shared by expert panelists

Challenges in addressing gender-based violence vary from region to region. Some key challenges identified include:

While complex and based on geographical contexts and experiences, some vital actions and opportunities to address OGBV in the Pacific are:

A complete event summary paper outlining more key insights, case studies, and resources is available to download through the WLI resources webpage.

Learn more about WLI Learning and Networking events