How to ensure the safety and security of women in online spaces

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The internet is seen as a place to receive a multitude of opportunities, from creative ingenuity and innovation, virtual spaces bring many things to life, but it has also brought existing problems, especially gender discrimination to online spaces.

Women’s safety is a major issue online or offline, something that breaks through several guidelines set across platforms to help curb the matter.

If the internet is supposed to be an open, accepting space to host different communities, it must begin by ensuring the safety and security of women participating in online spaces.  

Let’s take today to celebrate and encourage practices online to safeguard the interests of women on the internet.  

Most women engaging in online platforms face harassment, almost 90% of women on social media platforms have reported cases of harassment, privacy concerns, threats of sexual nature and receiving explicit messages.

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have the highest number of cases reported every year, women in these spaces have launched campaigns to raise awareness on the rampant cybercrime that happens almost every day.

Facebook, including Instagram, announced new features last year that are targeted towards the online safety of women, the social media giants have said that it was taking a stricter approach and developing strong policies to aid women in reporting cases of bullying and harassment on their platforms.

They also added that they would also make technological changes to combat the sharing of non-consensual images on the platform.

The company launched an all-new women’s safety hub, with the idea that non-English speakers should not face difficulty in getting information that will allow them to stay safe online.  

The safety hub was launched in Hindi and 11 other languages to provide more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them maintain a secure online environment.

It also included specific information for women journalists, politicians, public figures, and survivors of abuse, its online portal included video-on-demand safety training and allows visitors to register for live safety training hosted in multiple languages.  

One of the main causes of online harassment is the sharing of non-consensual images, most women with big followings on social media have talked about receiving messages that included explicit content, and the senders would be individuals having no prior contact with the affected women.

Reporting cases like this on the platforms themselves hinges on whether it is taken seriously or not, nearly all cases end up being branded as

“not encroaching on community guidelines”,

only recently have media platforms and their parent companies taken a more stringent approach to tackling cases like these.

Meta, for example, built a platform that is operated by UK Revenge Porn helpline to empower women across the globe to combat and prevent the spread of non-consensual images online.

StopNCII.org was built for safekeeping the privacy and security of users at its core. In India, the org partnered with organizations like Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research and Red Dot Foundation to help women in the country face issues like this.  

The National Commission for Women (NCW) said that it is important to understand online violence as an overt expression of the gender discrimination and inequality that exists offline.

They have also been working to strengthen the capacity of women to use technology-based tools to defend themselves by introducing digital literacy programs, initiating projects on gender sensitization and legal awareness in High schools to educate schoolchildren on safe online practices, and encouraging students to work towards gender equality and justice. 


Edited By: Kiran Maharana

Published By: Shramana Sengupta 

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Krishnapriya Prabhakaran
Krishnapriya Prabhakaran
Technology & Science news intern

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