More than half (58 percent) of all girls and women between the ages of 15 and 25 worldwide are victims of online harassment. Aid organization Plan International draws this conclusion after researching more than 14,000 girls and young women from 31 countries.
The aid organization questioned girls and women in Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and the United States, among others. Many girls feel threatened, for example by derogatory comments or threats about rape or the sending of pornographic images. According to Plan International, the harassment increases when they speak out about women’s rights, political issues or feminism.
In the Netherlands too, 58 percent of the girls surveyed indicate that they are sometimes harassed on social media.
Plan says online harassment has a lasting effect. Girls and women indicate in the study that it has an effect on self-confidence and creates a feeling of insecurity. For some it leads to mental and physical complaints such as stress and insomnia.
As a result of online harassment, 13 percent stop sharing their opinion on social media, the survey shows. 12 percent change the way they express themselves, eight percent completely stop using the social media platform on which they have been harassed. Most of the harassment occurs on Facebook, followed by Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Twitter.
“Online harassment silences girls worldwide,” says Garance Reus-Deelder, director of the Dutch Plan department. “And that while the internet offers so many opportunities for girls to make their voices heard.”