Nearly 1/3 of New Zealand women have experienced online abuse and harassment.
A new poll which looked at the experiences of women between the ages of 18 and 55 in Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK and USA has reveled the alarming impact that abuse and harassment on social media are having on women.
Globally, nearly a 1/4 (23%) of the women surveyed had experienced online abuse or harassment. In New Zealand, nearly 1/3 of women surveyed said they had experienced online abuse and harassment. Of those women who experienced abuse, 49% feared for their physical safety.
This poll is just the beginning of Amnesty's work on violence against women online. The results, though disturbing, are just numbers on a page. Do you have your own story of online harassment? Submit your story here and help put a face to the statistics and support our work to find meaningful solutions for women online.
“The internet can be a frightening and toxic place for women. It’s no secret that misogyny and abuse are thriving on social media platforms, but this poll shows just how damaging the consequences of online abuse are for the women who are targeted.”
Meg de Ronde, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International New Zealand
The psychological impact of online abuse can be devastating.
- Across all countries 61% of those that experienced online abuse experienced lower self-esteem or loss of self-confidence as a result.
- More than half (55%)experienced stress, anxiety or panic attacks after experiencing online abuse or harassment.
- 63% said they had not been able to sleep well as a result of online abuse or harassment. Three-quarters (75%) in New Zealand reported this effect.
A silencing effect
Social media platforms, especially for women and marginalised groups, are a critical space for individuals to exercise the right to freedom of expression. Online violence and abuse are a direct threat to this freedom of expression.
Over three quarters (76%) of women who said that they had experienced abuse or harassment on a social media platform made changes to the way they use the platforms. This included restricting what they post about: 32% of women said they’d stopped posting content that expressed their opinion on certain issues.
“Social media has helped enhance freedom of expression, including access to information in many ways. But as offline discrimination and violence against women have migrated into the digital world, many women are stepping back from public conversations, or self-censoring out of fear for their privacy or safety.” - Meg de Ronde.
Do you identify as female? Have you experienced online abuse? You can be part of the solution. Support this work by submitting your story.