While we are encouraging more and more women to come online and reap benefits of the virtual world, an anonymous survey about online experiences of female users on social media shows signs of misogyny in the virtual world also.

The research — conducted by the University of Huddersfield in the UK — says that almost half the women who use social media have faced sexual victimisation. Perpetrators resort to different means to harass women by asking to share intimate pictures of themselves or receiving unsolicited sexual images.

According to the study:

  • 41% experienced threatening behaviour online
  • 38% had experienced humiliating contact
  • 15% had experienced sexual, threatening or humiliating contact
  • 13% experienced sexual behaviour
  • 12% admitted to threatening and humiliating behaviours

These results suggest that cyberviolence via social media is a problem for female social media users, across various social media platforms and has lasting offline consequences – Megan Kenny from University of Huddersfield

Read Also: Women, Safety and The Virtual World

The women — victimised by such online behaviour — had to grapple with negative feelings about themselves and perpetrators. In order to tide over their fears, they devised several coping strategies like using humour and defiance, minimising behaviour and reporting indifference.

“These results suggest that cyberviolence via social media is a problem for female social media users, across various social media platforms and has lasting offline consequences,” said Megan Kenny from University of Huddersfield. She further added that documenting this kind of behaviour using screenshots, making note of dates and reporting the individual to the platform in the first place are important measures to ensure one’s virtual safety.

She also suggested contacting the police as an important measure.

A lot of countries, across the world, are taking a slew of measures to ensure that women’s online safety takes centrestage on all social media platforms.

Read also: Girl Hits Back At Cyber Bully

For instance, Facebook recently launched the parents’ portal that assists them in guiding their children on how to use social media platforms safely.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, is conducting workshops for girls on “Facebook safety”, where it aims to sensitise them on the various defensive techniques that can be used to avert cyber crime.

We will be able to move towards a truly egalitarian world when women feel safe in both — real and virtual world. Cybercrimes of these kind defeat the purpose of empowering women in the digital world.

Read Also: Safety for women online & offline: Social tools can be a bridge