• February 23, 2024
 Prime Minister urged to strengthen Online Safety Bill to tackle VAWG

Prime Minister urged to strengthen Online Safety Bill to tackle VAWG

A group of survivors of child sexual abuse, gendered violence, and online misogyny have urged the Prime Minister to strengthen the Online Safety Bill to protect women and girls as the legislation is debated in the House of Lords.

What the letter is calling for

The group are asking the Prime Minister to back an amendment that would force tech companies to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and ensure the risks women and girls face do not continue to go unaddressed.

The signatories include former Love Island star, Refuge Ambassador and host of Girls Know Nothing podcast Sharon Gaffka, as well as broadcaster and NSPCC Ambassador for Childhood Charlie Webster. Natasha Devon MBE, a Glitch ambassador writer, presenter and activist, has also signed.

The letter was drafted by survivors of grooming, harassment and intimate image abuse who want the Online Safety Bill to include a mandatory VAWG Code of Practice so tech companies have a legal duty to fight violence against women and girls on their sites.

The Online Safety Bill

The Prime Minister has recently spoken about his support for the Online Safety Bill as a parent who became more aware of online risks when his daughter got her own phone and previously said: “Sexual violence against women and girls should be treated as a national emergency until it has been defeated.”

The campaigners wrote in the letter:

“Our experiences include online grooming, child sexual abuse and exploitation; intimate image abuse, blackmail, the receipt of unsolicited intimate images from men; and misogynistic abuse and threats of physical violence, including rape. VAWG online is a pervasive and growing threat that impacts too many women and girls across the UK.”

In its current form the Online Safety Bill fails to provide protections for girls and women or encourage tech platforms to tackle the way their sites contribute to sexual violence and gendered abuse.

The survivors told the Prime Minister in the letter:

“We are fighting for an online world which is safer for women and girls now and in the future. Tackling the abuse and harm women and girls experience online must be a top priority if we are going to stop the abuse and harm that we have experienced from happening to others.

A (VAWG) Code of Practice will guide online services in how to tackle VAWG online, ensuring the prevention of harm is built into platforms. We urge you to take this opportunity to show girls and women that they can be themselves online – and that they deserve to do this free from violence and online abuse.”

Jess Eagelton, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Refuge, said:

“Including a VAWG Code of Practice in the Online Safety Bill would enable the online world to be safer for women and girls, and better protect them from abuse and harassment. The government has said that it considers violence against women and girls to be a ‘national threat’, but we simply do not see that being translated into online protections, and adding a VAWG Code into the Online Safety Bill is a simple step but one that has the power to improve the lives of countless women and girls.”

Katie Johnson, Digital Journalist, Today's Media

Digital Journalist, Today's Media

Contact: katie.johnson@todaysmedia.co.uk

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