Federal government looking to combat cyber violence against women

The strategy may be a much needed tool in the fight to combat cyber violence against girls and women.
The strategy may be a much needed tool in the fight to combat cyber violence against girls and women. (Photo: iStock)

As incidents of cyber violence against women keep rising around the world, the Canadian government has announced that it would look at confronting the issue head on.

Patty A. Hajdu, the federal status of women minister is determined to tackle cyber violence against women in upcoming federal strategy consultations, which will start either in the fall or early next year.

Hajdu says a strong strategy to deal with “horrific” cyber violence directed against women is necessary, because the policies and laws we have now just don’t cut it. She told CBC News that the strategy “will be stronger than one complaint or one lawsuit. It will be the federal government of Canada saying we need to take these actions.”

Not only is Hajdu looking at developing tactics to deal with cyber violence but she is also looking at strengthening laws addressing cyber violence.

The strategy may be a much needed tool in the fight to combat cyber violence against girls and women, as it seems the law is at times helpless to help women affected by online harassment.

Just this year, a Toronto man accused of harassing two feminist activists online was acquitted, because although there was a good number of harassing online tweets he posted against the women, it simply wasn’t enough to convict him.

A particular area of cyber violence that is of concern is cyberstalking, as a 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that “young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking” and that social media is the “most common scene” for this type of harassment.

Cyberstalking is broadly defined as referring to activities such as direct harassing communication through e-mail or text messaging, internet harassment and unauthorized use, control and interference with the victim’s computer.

Cyberstalking behaviour includes:

  • Getting information about the victim which includes private information;
  • Tracking the victim through GPS software;
  • Trying to destroy the victim’s reputation; and
  • Sending viruses to the victim’s computer.

Victims are encouraged to stop contact with their stalkers after sending a written message, collect all evidence in either physical or electronic form, and contact the police if the person doesn’t stop the harassment.

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