- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
“From trolling to revenge porn, women and girls are abused online,” says Joyce
Online abuse against women and girls will be debated this weekend at an international conference, attended by Assembly Member Joyce Watson.
Mrs Watson is Chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in Wales. From 6 to 8 February, she will join women parliamentarians from across Britain, Ireland and the Mediterranean at a special conference in Gibraltar to talk about Ending Violence Against Women.
Joyce Watson AM said:
“Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to internet abuse. Misogyny and nastiness stalk our online shared spaces, escalating to extreme intimidation and threats of rape, torture and death.
“From trolling to so-called ‘revenge porn,’ the internet enables people with violent attitudes towards women and girls to attack and abuse them, often anonymously, from what they believe is a safe distance.
“The challenge is to enforce the law online as it applies in the real world and provide better protection to victims, while defending free speech. These are some of the issues the conference will discuss.”
The Mid and West Wales Labour AM will chair a session on how to encourage men and boys to speak out against violence. She will talk about her experience of leading the White Ribbon campaign in Wales, which calls on people to make a public pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. It is aimed at men – but women can show their support by wearing a white ribbon throughout November and December.
For the past three years, Mrs Watson has teamed up with the WI (National Federation of Women’s Institutes-Wales) to run the White Ribbon Not in My Name campaign. The campaign is backed by an array of men’s organisations including the Scarlets rugby team, the Welsh Rugby Union, Wrexham FC, Newport County FC, Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey Team, Only Men Aloud, NFU Cymru, Farmers’ Union of Wales, the Wales YFC, and a number of local male voice choirs and sports clubs across Wales. Pupils and staff from Coedcae and Bryngwyn schools in Llanelli and Welshpool High School have also promoted the Not in My Name respect agenda.
Mrs Watson added:
“Engaging men and boys is crucial to challenging the inequalities and attitudes that contribute to violence against women.
“By working with men and male organisations, Wales is leading the way. The Assembly is in the process of passing a new law to tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence –other Commonwealth parliaments are keen to learn from our experience.”
The Welsh Government’s Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill, if passed by the Assembly, will create stronger legal protection for victims of abuse and place a responsibility on the public sector to improve its response to these issues.
The Gibraltar conference follows a fact-finding visit to Cardiff, last November, of the British Territory’s equality and social services minister, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, organised by Joyce Watson. The minister discussed the new Bill with Welsh Government officials and met Gill Owens, operations manager of Welsh Women’s Aid, before visiting a local women’s refuge.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association brings together politicians from 175 legislatures in 54 countries. Its purpose is to share ideas and promote democracy and human rights across the Commonwealth. Wales is one of 13 Branches which form the CPA’s British Islands and Mediterranean Region. The other Branches are: Alderney, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malta, Northern Ireland, St Helena, Scotland and the United Kingdom.