Egypt, Mexico, Viet Nam
, Middle East & North Africa

HRC38 | Online violence against women activists is a continuum of offline violence

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition calls for an end to State persecution against online activities of women rights defenders such as Amal Fathy from Egypt and Pham Doan Trang from Vietnam.

At a high level panel organised at the UN Human Rights Council last Thursday, expert panelists and States recognised that everyone is entitled to the same protection of rights online as they are offline. 

Speaking on behalf of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, a group of NGOs highlighted that women activists are increasingly engaged in digital spaces. While this has allowed for new opportunities for awareness and accountability, it has also exposed them to further risk of online harassment, smear campaigns, intimidation and violence with clear gender dimensions aimed at delegitimising their work to defend human rights.

The Coalition stressed that the first step towards addressing online violence is to recognise that it is a legitimate and harmful manifestation of gender-based violence.

Elena Levina, a woman human rights defender from Russia, highlighted specific urgent cases for the attention of Member States.

Egyptian feminist Amal Fathy remains in pre-trial detention for exposing sexual violence in Egypt. The unsubstantiated charges she faces include “incitement to overthrow the government in Egypt,” “spreading false news on Facebook”, and “abuse of social media.”

Vietnamese dissident Pham Doan Trang disseminated information online regarding human rights violations connected with development projects in Vietnam. She was allegedly kidnapped by security officials earlier this month. Vietnamese legislators have subsequently adopted a cybersecurity law, effective as of 1 January 2019.

Watch the statememt here: 

Photo: Flickr/ Say NO – UNITE

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