Gender-based cyberviolence to be added to ‘EU crimes’ list

Gender-based cyberviolence to be added to ‘EU crimes’ list
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A European directive that aims to eliminate gender-based cyberviolence would criminalise such acts at the EU level, codifying it in law and harmonising minimum and maximum penalties.

“Gender-based cyberviolence has a major impact on people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, on their dignity and on their lives at all levels,” said MEP Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi (EPP, EL). She added that legislation should include measures to support victims, as well as prevention efforts.

“Gender-based violence, in all its forms, is a crime to which we must show zero tolerance.”

A non-exhaustive list of cyberviolence includes cyber stalking, violations of privacy, recording and sharing images of sexual assault, remote control or surveillance (including spy apps), threats and calls to violence, sexist hate speech, induction to self-harm, unlawful access to messages or social media accounts and human trafficking.

A growing problem

Cybercrime has skyrocketed during the pandemic, in particular against women who make up 90% of cybercrime victims alongside LGBTQ people.

The situation was bad enough in Belgium to spur Brussels into action, with the majority parties in parliament introducing a proposal in March to fight cyberviolence and provide support for victims.

Draft legislation to tackle gender-based cyberviolence was adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament this week. In it, MEPs call on the EU to officially recognise that gender-based violence is a particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension.

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“This report sends a strong message to the Commission, emphasising yet again that we demand specific action to combat gender-based cyberviolence,” said co-rapporteur Sylwia Spurek (Greens/EFA, PL).

“The legislative measures we recommend should be included in the comprehensive Directive against gender-based violence in all its forms. It’s about the law, it’s about human rights, it’s about democracy: we need to guarantee every woman is safe from violence.”

The Commission indicated it will propose a law in March 2022 to combat violence against women both online and offline that includes prevention, protection, and effective prosecution.

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