A recent survey carried out by UK-based humanitarian organization Plan International, titled “State of the World’s Girls Report”, involving 14,000 women aged 15-25 from 22 different countries including India, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Australia, Japan, Thailand and the United States reveals girls and women are the biggest target of online violence and abuse. The survey highlighted the fact that 58 per cent of them accepted of facing online harassment or abuse on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and TikTok.
“The percentage details are Europe with 63 % followed by Latin America with 60 % and 58 % in the Asia-Pacific region, 54 % in Africa, and 52 % in North America faced harassment,” the report found. The harassment of young women ranges from threats of sexual violence to racist comments and stalking. Of them, 47 % faced physical or sexual violence threat, while 59 % faced abusive and insulting language. The women from minority and LGBTQ+ communities faced harassed because of their identities. “While 11 % of the surveyed girls were harassed by a current or former intimate partner, 21 % pointed towards friends and 23 % knew their harassers from school or work,” the survey said. Surprisingly, no one stated women behind their harassment.
A total of 42 % women registered mental or emotional stress, and the same 42% of respondents accepted a decrease in self-esteem and confidence because of online harassment. Due to the ill-treatment, 1/5 about 19% or significantly reduced the use of a social media platform, while 1/10 (12%) shows change in the way they express themselves. “Girls are being silenced by a toxic level of harassment. Activists, including those campaigning for gender equality and on LGBT+ issues, were often targeted particularly viciously, and their lives and families threatened. Driving girls out of online spaces is hugely disempowering in an increasingly digital world, and damages their ability to be seen, heard and become leaders,”,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Plan International’s chief executive.