Freedom of Expression of Women in the Public Sphere: From Objectification to Technology Facilitated Sexual Violence
Submission to the Thematic Report for the 76th Session of the General Assembly
4 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2021 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021
Date Written: June 14, 2021
In this submission, we discuss how women in the public sphere, including women journalists, human rights defenders, politicians, and activists, face many challenges in exercising their freedom of expression across the globe. Both online and offline, the prevalence and normalisation of sexualised, objectifying, and humiliating images of women and girls, as well as technology-facilitated violence against women and pornographic content in the digital environment, limit and challenge the right to freedom of expression and opinion of women in the public sphere in multiple ways. We invite the Special Rapporteur to call on digital platforms and governments to work together to develop approaches to tackle technology-facilitated violence against women. These approaches can be grounded in both criminal and human rights law; and the latter should involve a development of a binding international human rights law for private actors to remedy the violations of freedom of expression of women in the digital environment. However, importantly, these legal approaches should also build on a wider effort to de-normalize objectification and sexualisation of women and girls, including in mainstream advertising and the multi-billion pornography industry. Only then can women in the public sphere enjoy their freedom of expression, opinion, and dignity both online and offline, without discrimination.
Keywords: Freedom of Expression; Gender; Human Rights; Feminist Theory; Objectification; Sexualisation; Discrimination; Pornography; Technology Facilitated Sexual Violence; Internet
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