Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Requires International Action

The creation of the Internet gave us a borderless world where communication can happen from any corner of the planet to all other corners almost instantaneously and for (relatively) minimal cost. Although that has facilitated unprecedented economic and social advances, it has also imperiled the lives of millions of women and girls.

The necessity of the global community coming together to develop cross-border policies and legislation against exploitation and abuse is critical. This is the position of the global non-profit organization, Equality Now, founded in 1992 by a group of feminists seeking to eradicate sex discriminatory laws, which are a fundamental barrier to gender equality. 

The organization recently published a comprehensive report on Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Girls: A Call for International Standards. It did so using a survivor-centric approach, to “illustrate the impact of OSEA… highlight the challenges faced in keeping people safe in a rapidly changing digital landscape” and examine the legal context, attempting to balance digital privacy and freedom of expression with protection and online safety.

Merely reading the definitions below related to online abuse is to be reminded that not only does evil exist in the world, but it is facilitated by the Internet in ways that most of us can’t imagine.

OSEA – acronym for online sexual exploitation and abuse, which includes online grooming, live-streaming of sexual abuse, child sexual abuse material, online sexual coercion and extortion, online sex trafficking and image-based sexual abuse. 

CSAM  – acronym for child sexual abuse material

TFGBV – acronym for technology-facilitated gender-based violence

The report cites four key findings that constitute the barriers to prosecuting perpetrators of online abuse and achieving justice for its victims, and makes eight detailed recommendations for governments and the international community. 

You can read the executive summary outlining these here.