According to the UN agency, it is relentless, borderless and often anonymous. ‘’Digital violence includes online harassment, demeaning slurs, abuse and non-consensual sexual misuse/abuse of images. It affects everyone, but women, girls, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups are most likely to be subjected to this form of violence. Anyone who tries to regain control of their images finds themselves with limited access to services to end the violence and few legal rights.
‘’Digital violence causes long term psychological and emotional distress and can have a substantial and devastating impact on people’s lives. Many, particularly girls and women, are leaving online spaces altogether’’, UNFPA says.
Bodyright is about everyone’s fundamental right to choose what they do with their own bodies – and that includes how they are portrayed online. The digital world must be a safe place for everyone, where consent is required before using another person’s image. All spaces, whether real or virtual, should be free from violence.
The campaign says governments, tech companies and social media platforms must acknowledge their role in fighting online violence – because if they can protect copyright, they can protect bodyright, insisting, ‘’online violence is a human rights violation.
‘’We call on policymakers, tech companies and social media platforms to take image-based abuse, the devaluation of human beings and online misogyny as seriously as they take copyright infringement. Sign the petition and be part of the movement to end digital violence.’’
The Internet can be a hateful, hostile place, particularly for women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other marginalised communities who are more likely to have their images abused online.
Such sexualised abuse includes non-consensual sharing of intimate images (also known as “revenge porn,” an objectionable term that suggests a survivor deserved retribution or consented to making pornography), deepfakes (manipulation of imagery using machine learning/AI) and upskirting (taking non-consensual images up a skirt or dress.)
All are forms of digital violence, which is prevalent, repetitive, perpetual and pervasive. The consequences of these violations of a person’s privacy, dignity, autonomy and rights are devastating.
Make no mistake: Even when such violence is perpetrated in the virtual world, the fear, anxiety, loss of self-esteem and sense of powerlessness are very real and enduring.
Online misogyny and violence is widespread human rights violation, yet tech companies and policymakers place greater value and protections on copyright than on the rights of human beings online.
Those who infringe copyright face legal penalties and swift removal of content by digital platforms, while survivors of online violence face barriers and have few legal rights.
This is why UNFPA is launching bodyright, a brand new “copyright” for the human body. It demands that images of our bodies are given the same respect and protection online as copyright gives to music, film and even corporate logos.
For UNFPA, 85% of women globally have experienced or witnessed digital violence against other women, 57% of women have had their videos or images online abused or misused, and 96% of online deepfake videos are pornography, all of women.
What is bodyright?
Bodyright is a new ‘copyright’ mark to assert and demand protection from digital violence. The core of this online and social media campaign from the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, is the bodyright symbol.
This symbol can be added to any image of a human body directly on social media or any other digital content -sharing platform. The aim is to drive tech companies and policymakers to take the violation of human rights and protecting bodily autonomy online as seriously as they take copyright infringement.
Bodyright is a social movement that asks us all to take gender-based online violence seriously. We all need to understand our role in it and work together to drive real change and online protections for every girl, woman and young person, everywhere.
Why you need bodyright
Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and bodily automony. It is a pressing global public health issue. Gender-based violence is rooted in misogyny, and it is increasing online. Digital violence is typically highly sexualized and takes many forms including cyberharassment, hate speech, doxxing and non-consensual use of images and video, such as deepfakes.
Images are being used and abused online. People are targeted with slurs, including references to rape, based on gender, race, LGBTQ+ status, body type and other identifiers and their images are subjected to demeaning non-consensual sexual acts. Globally, 85% of women reported witnessing digital violence, and nearly 40% have experienced it personally.
Women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities are the most likely to have their images abused online. It causes long-term psychological, emotional and physical distress. Yet, digital violence is not taken seriously by tech companies and policymakers who seem to be looking the other way.
It should, however, be noted that all data referenced is taken from Economist Intelligence Unit, 2020: Study only surveyed 18+
Add the body right symbol to an image of yourself and post it to social media with the #bodyright hashtag. Re-post campaign content or images UNFPA is sharing on social media, share a link to the campaign video and/or other assets including this website, talk about the issue online and offline, and sign the UNFPA + Global Citizen petition and encourage your followers to do the same.
As part of the bodyright campaign, UNFPA has launched a petition, hosted by Global Citizen, demanding tangible action to put a stop to digital violence and abuse. We are asking people to sign it and demand that policymakers, companies and digital platforms take online abuse as seriously as they do copyright infringements.
Digital violence is typically highly sexualised and takes many forms including cyberbullying, cyberflashing, doxxing, hate speech and non-consensual use of images and video, such as deepfakes. People are targeted with slurs, including references to rape, based on gender, race, LGBTQ+ status, body type and other identifiers and their images are subjected to demeaning non-consensual sexual acts.
This misogynist hate and devaluation of women online causes long-term psychological, emotional and physical distress. Nine out of ten women (92%) report online violence harms their sense of well-being and over a third (35%) have experienced mental health issues due to online violence. It also inhibits authentic self-expression and adversely impacts professional and economic livelihoods of people who depend on online and social media spaces.
Bodily autonomy is the right of every individual to choose what they do with their bodies and to live free of fear and violence. This principle should apply both online and offline. Undoubtedly, gender-based violence is harmful and damaging acts directed against individuals or groups based on their gender. It is often violence against women and girls and includes everything from sexual violence in the real world to online sexual harassment, cyberbullying, doxxing and malicious manipulation of images, such as deepfakes.
Why the law does not protect citizens against online abuse and digital violence
Laws in this area have not kept pace with the technology and they need to catch up fast. In 64 of 86 countries, law enforcement agencies and courts appear to be failing to take appropriate corrective actions to address online violence against women.
Even where countries do have legal remedies, they are often not consistent across states, districts or provinces. This must change. Seeking justice should not have to be another traumatizing experience. We must push for a world where everyone is protected from online abuse by consistent and effective legal measures.
Governments need to step up. Laws in this area have not kept pace with the technology and they need to catch up fast. Even where countries do have legal remedies, they are often not consistent across states, districts or provinces.
The non-consensual use, misuse or abuse of people’s images should be criminalized and tech companies and social media platforms should be legally obligated to put effective moderation and reporting systems in place.
Tech companies also need to step up. Digital and social media platforms, online forums and content sites should provide women and girls the same protection as copyrighted materials.
UNFPA joined the World Wide Web Foundation in its call to Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter to prioritise the safety of women online, holding them to the pledges made during the 2021 Generation Equality Forum in Paris. Women need to have more control over who can interact with them online and who can access their content, along with having better ways to report abuse.
Furthermore, tech companies need to create innovative solutions to prevent digital violence and improve online safety. Tech companies must be more responsive to victims seeking help in taking down posts that violate their rights and privacy and address perpetrators appropriately.