The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus (WPC) has proposed the development of a more effective and efficient complaint and investigative mechanism to regulate gender-based violence on digital platforms.
Issuing a statement in this regard, the WPC stated that it is necessary to build awareness on digital gender-based violence and safer means of using digital platforms among the general public, to safeguard the well-being and dignity of women and girls.
The relevant statement was issued by MP Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Chairperson of the WPC, to mark International Women’s Day celebrated on 08 March.
In line with the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’, the statement raised concerns on the violence and harassment faced online by women and girls, amidst a society in which almost all key everyday activities have been digitized following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Fernandopulle shed light on the fact that complaints received by the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) and National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) from distressed individuals and parents reached a record-high by a pandemic-hit society, emphasizing that most victims were women and girls.
“Therefore, building awareness on digital gender-based violence and safer means of using digital platforms among the general public is an imperative’, the MP said in this regard.
In a similar vein, Dr. Fernandopulle’s statement also raised caution on the disparities faced between genders, in relation to accessibility to online platforms and the internet.
“With the advancement of technology and globalization, the challenges that women face have altered. However, prejudices and stereotypical beliefs still stand in the way of women realizing their full potential, even in the 21st century”, she said, adding that globally, digital literacy is lower for women than for men due to the limitations faced by women in their access to devices, networks and data.
“It also appears that in instances where a family could afford just one device, the male child is given preference over the female child to use the device due to prejudicial beliefs”.
“Whereas an international day dedicated towards women might appear inconsequential, the observance of this day is crucial in creating public awareness on women’s rights and issues faced by women, and above all it is a powerful advocacy tool to mobilize political will and resources to realize gender equality and women’s empowerment”, the statement read.