Violence against women and girls (VAWG) in digital contexts is not a new phenomenon, however it has rapidly escalated in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic as women’s lives shifted online for work, education, access to services, and social activities. While there continue to be significant gaps in data, one global report suggests that prevalence ranges from 16 per cent to 58 per cent.
Online VAWG occurs as part of a continuum that is often connected to offline violence and can encompass many forms including sexual harassment, stalking, zoom bombing, and these continue to multiply in a context of rapidly expanding digitalization. The impact of online VAWG can be as harmful as offline violence with negative effects on the health and wellbeing of women and girls as well as serious economic, social and political impacts.
This paper provides a brief overview of the existing data and evidence on online and technology facilitated VAWG, outlines some of the key developments, gaps, challenges, and emerging promising practices, and makes recommendations to be considered by governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, and the technology sector.