Digital violence is increasing globally and it doesn’t discriminate.
Everyone is at risk of the form of abuse that includes non-consensual sharing of intimate photos, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, doxxing, sextortion, online harassment, and online impersonation, but women and girls and marginalized people are especially vulnerable.
That’s why UNFPA, the United Nations’ sexual and reproductive agency, launched bodyright, the first “copyright” mark on human bodies to call for protection from online violence on Thursday. The campaign encourages individuals to affix a “b” symbol that’s available as a sticker or downloadable version to any image of a human body on social media.
According to UNFPA, 85% of women reported witnessing online violence and nearly 40% have experienced it personally. Online abuse not only violates human rights and bodily autonomy, but it causes long-term psychological, emotional, and physical distress. The abuse of images online, subjection to slurs abuse, and nonconsensual sexual acts can be especially damaging for individuals who rely on social spaces for work.
UNFPA is working to create awareness and push digital companies, social platforms, online forums, and content sharing sites to take the abusive use of women’s bodies as seriously as copyright infringements. Tech companies and policymakers are ignoring the violence and misogyny digital violence survivors experience and put more importance and protection on the copyright of corporate logos and intellectual property than humans and their online rights, according to the organization.
When someone infringes upon music copyrights, online platforms remove the content, but the same standards and protocols to identify and prevent unauthorized use of copyright material don’t apply to images of women’s bodies. When survivors of digital violence try to take back control of their images, they have access to few services or legal rights to seek justice. Digital violence is causing women and girls to go offline completely.
Bodyright is running in tandem with the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which kicked of on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and runs until Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, to highlight that women’s rights are human rights and need to be promoted and protected.
This year’s campaign theme is “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!” UNFPA also launched an interactive website highlighting the stories of 11 young women around the world who have experienced digital violence as part of 16 Days.
UNFPA and Global Citizen launched a petition asking companies, platforms, and policymakers to take the devaluation of human beings and online violence as seriously as other copyright infringements. Governments, tech companies, and social media platforms must be held accountable for their position to help fight online violence.
Global Citizens interested in supporting the global bodyright campaign can also post UNFPA campaign content or make their own to post on social media, share the campaign video, invite followers to fight for bodyright and post to their channels, and sign the petition.
Women’s rights are human rights — and they must be promoted and protected. This 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, we’re asking Global Citizens to join us for our #16Days Challenge, to take a simple action each day that will help you learn more about women’s rights, bodily autonomy, and gender violence online.
You’ll start important conversations with your loved ones, advocate on social media for women’s and girls’ right to their own bodies, support women-owned businesses in your community, sign petitions to support bodily autonomy, and more. Find out more about the #16Days Challenge and start taking action here.