Women are 27 times more likely to be victims of cyber violence than men, according to a 2015 report by the UN Broadband Commission.
“Millions of women and girls around the world are subjected to deliberate violence because of their gender,” notes the report. “Violence against women and girls knows no boundaries, cutting across borders, race, culture and income groups, profoundly harming victims, people around them, and society as a whole.”
The problem in Barbados is even more pronounced.
With a population of 285,000, Barbados is one of the most connected countries in a region where rates of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape are higher than the global average.
This Internet penetration has magnified gender inequality online: Barbadian women and girls are now experiencing more — and more severe — forms of online abuse than ever before.
In 2018, the Internet Society Barbados Chapter set out to reverse this trend with the launch of the C.A.R.E. campaign.
Standing for ‘Combating online Abuse through Research and Education,’ the campaign, supported by a Beyond the Net Programme Funding grant, was designed to raise awareness of the issue and its effects, and forge a dialogue between law enforcement and victims.
The project, hailed as the first of its kind in Barbados, will also measure the awareness of police officers, and identify the challenges they experience in enforcing existing legislation. (Though legislation against online abuse exists in Barbados, few cases have been heard in court, and victims perceive the response of law enforcement to be inadequate.)
The Internet Society Barbados Chapter has partnered on the campaign with the local nonprofit NOAH (No! to Online Abuse and Harassment), which is managing the project.
Notes NOAH President and Project Manager Ashell Forde, “There is a clear need for stronger strategies to help women escape online violence and support them in addressing the ways in which abuse has eroded their self-esteem.”