Last week, Commissioner Gabriel and Commissioner Jourová launched the #DigitalRespect4Her campaign at the European Parliament. Several members of the European Parliament, including President Tajani, and other Commissioners have expressed their support.
The campaign will raise awareness about online violence and the difficulties faced by women in particular – threats, stalking, intimidation, objectification and undermining of their professional work or public presence - to the extent that it often discourages them from taking part in important online exchanges and from engaging in politics, which should be open to everyone.
We have all witnessed such inappropriate behaviour. Alarming figures confirm it is widespread: international statistics show that women are 27 times more likely to be harassed online; 46.9 % of female politicians from 45 European countries have received threats of death, rape and violence during their parliamentary term; and almost a third of women reduced their online presence after having experienced violence online.
Now is the time to think seriously about how we act online. We must aim at creating a culture of respect and dignity for all. No one should be pushed out of the public space by hurtful comments about their gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or any other personal trait.
There is a European framework to address this challenge: the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive will now protect EU citizens from content, which incites hatred or violence on the grounds of gender. The Commission's Communication and Recommendation on Tackling Illegal Content Online calls on platforms to address illegal content more quickly and efficiently.
Technology can make life easier, happier, and better – but we must not allow it to undermine our common European values or serve as a platform for hate and fear. The campaign's slogan offers good advice: Wouldn't say it? Don't type it.
The initiative is backed by well-known personalities who have spoken about their online ordeal, and how it has affected them both as women and as public figures. Everyone can support the campaign or send their own story via #DigitalRespect4Her.