The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in collaboration with seven country partners conducted the “From impunity to justice“ research. The research explores corporate and state remedies for dealing with technology-related violence against women (VAW), it was done as part of the End violence: Women's rights and safety online project which was implemented from 2012-2015. The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affair’s (DGIS) Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) fund.


Why this research?

Today, online spaces such as social media and alternative news sites have become important sites for political, economic, social and cultural participation for women and girls worldwide, ranging from organising against discrimination and exclusion to the running of profitable businesses or making informed decisions about sexual health. Governments are also increasingly using the internet to provide services and information to citizens. However, there is a growing trend to silence women and keep them out of online public spaces and technology development. This is being done through tactics which are very similar to that of offline VAW, such as harassment, intimidation, and invasion of privacy.

Since 2005, APC have been mapping and analysing technology-related violence against women, as well as working with women's rights organisations and individual internet users to challenge harmful sexist practices, and promote women and girls' control of technology.

When we started this work we were often asked why are you doing this when there is so much “real violence” against women in the world. This is a luxury. The stories collected through the research document, why, not only is it misleading to think that there is no connection between the online and offline violence, but also show that this attitude of not seeing it as “real” has devastating consequences for women.

What this research focuses on?

From 2009 to 2011, APC worked with the local organisations in 12 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to explore how technology is being used to perpetuate violence against women and create a global community of women and girls who are critically taking up ICT tools to end it. We found that in all 12 countries- policies, regulations or services to prevent or respond to these new forms of violence do not exist or are inadequate. Women and girls who fall victim do not know what to do to stop the abuse, what charges they can report, who they should report to and what help they can get.

This learning gave us an impulse for this research, where the overarching goals are to:

  1. Gather evidence to increase our understanding of the dynamics of technology-related VAW, and of what works and what doesn’t in the fight against these forms of violence.
  2. Develop recommendations for effective evidence-based legal, civic and community based response strategies that can be readily adopted by key stakeholders (mainly, women, women advocates, public officials, legal professionals, and corporate agents) to fight technology-related VAW.
  3. Disseminate information that helps women and girls who fall victim to technology-related violence, know what to do to stop the abuse, realise what charges they can report and to whom, and become aware of the kind of help they can get.

Who is this research for?

The research targets women leaders - women's rights advocates, women in the technology industry, community activists, young women peer leaders and opinion-makers - as well as women's rights organisations that are already active in implementing interventions and advocacy strategies to address technology-related VAW. It also targets public officials, legal professionals, and internet intermediaries.

How was the research conducted?

The research was conducted in collaboration with partners located in seven countries: OneWorldSEE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colnodo in Colombia, Si Jeunesse Savait in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and KICTANet in Kenya, an APC project associate in Mexico, Bytes for All in Pakistan, and the Foundation for Media Alternatives in the Philippines, between April 2013 and June 2014,

The research highlights the voices and experiences of women from the global south who have faced technology-related VAW and sought justice through state agencies and internet intermediaries. A total of 24 case studies were documented across the seven countries, we were also able to map the domestic legal remedies of the seven countries, and review the policies of 22 companies, with reference to national telephony companies, social media platforms, and pornography websites.

As part of the research, recent legislative developments in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and United States have been explored, seeking to understand how other domestic legislatures are responding to increasing awareness of violence against women online.