Online sexist hate speech is a new form of violence against women and girls, and reflects resistance to the very concept of gender equality.
Devising tools to combat this form of abuse is high on the agenda of the Nordic ministers for gender equality. The Nordic governments have set up a panel of experts all of whom conduct research into and campaign against online abuse.
Violence against women has spilled over into the digital sphere where non-consensual pornography, a.k.a. revenge porn, is wreaking havoc – even leading to the victim’s suicide in extreme cases. But it’s not the nudity that kills these women. It’s the cruelty, the slut-shaming and the condemnation that kills them.
MPs and journalists
By taking the expert panel to the UN CSW next week, the ministers hope to encourage international collaboration on this highly topical gender-equality issue.
The expert panel consists of
- The Danish editor Emma Holten, who became an active feminist after falling victim to revenge porn
- The Finnish politician Nasima Razmyar MP, who was a refugee from Afghanistan, and who has been targeted by organised hate campaigns for her commitment to refugee issues
- The Swedish project manager Johnny Lindqvist, who co-ordinates the No Hate Speech Movement
- The lawyer and researcher Anine Kierulf, who works for the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights
- The author and journalist Thordis Elva, whose work against gender-based violence and revenge porn led to a nomination for Women of the Year 2015 in Iceland.
International research shows that net abuse has a clear and significant gender dimension. Women are exposed to sexualised hate and threats of rape merely for speaking out. Men are rarely the victims of the same type of sexualised abuse online.
“Violence against women has spilled over into the digital sphere where non-consensual pornography, a.k.a. revenge porn, is wreaking havoc – even leading to the victim’s suicide in extreme cases. But it’s not the nudity that kills these women. It’s the cruelty, the slut-shaming and the condemnation that kills them.”
Online hate speech restricts women’s opportunities to write, work and express their views and severely restricts their scope for involvement in the digital world.
This has consequences for democracy.
“A key reason to protect freedom of speech is that a diversity of opinions is a good thing. Hateful, sexist remarks that silence women are not conducive to such diversity. If you want a well-assorted market of ideas, curb your hate,” says Anine Kierulf.
The expert panel will take part in the CSW event Fighting Sexism and Hate Speech Online – a Nordic panel of experts in UN HQ from 11:30 until 12:45 local time on 18 March.
The debate will be chaired by the Finnish journalist Johanna Korhonen.
The event will be streamed live and recorded:
- UN WEB TV
The experts will be available for brief interviews right after the event or by arrangement (see the contact details below).