Digital violence is on the rise. It is relentless, borderless and often anonymous. Digital violence includes online harassment, demeaning slurs, abuse and non-consensual sexual misuse/abuse of images.
It affects everyone, but women, girls, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups are most likely to be subjected to this form of violence. Anyone who tries to regain control of their images finds themselves with limited access to services to end the violence and few legal rights.
Digital violence causes long term psychological and emotional distress and can have a substantial and devastating impact on people’s lives. Many, particularly girls and women, are leaving online spaces altogether.
Online abuse is a violation of human rights and bodily autonomy. But the reality is that people do not own their own bodies online. This must change.
This is why, UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, has launched bodyright, a new ‘copyright’ for human bodies. The ambition is to shine a light on the harmful impact of online abuse and demand that individuals, especially women, girls and marginalized people are provided the same respect and given the same value and protections online as is afforded copyright and intellectual property.
Bodyright is about everyone’s fundamental right to choose what they do with their own bodies – and that includes how they are portrayed online. The digital world must be a safe place for everyone, where consent is required before using another person’s image. All spaces, whether real or virtual, should be free from violence.
Governments, tech companies and social media platforms must acknowledge their role in fighting online violence – because if they can protect copyright, they can protect bodyright.
Support the bodyright movement to demand change and accountability by adding your voice to this petition.