Εκδήλωση στον ΟΗΕ – “Sexist Hate Speech: a violation of women’s human rights” – 24/03/17

Πραγματοποιήθηκε με μεγάλη επιτυχία, στις 15 Μαρτίου, στην έδρα των Ηνωμένων Εθνών, η έκδηλωση “Sexist Hate Speech: aviolation of women’s human rights” (Σεξιστική ρητορική μίσους: παραβίαση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων των γυναικών) στο πλαίσιο της 61ης Συνόδου της Επιτροπής για το Καθεστώς των Γυναικών (CSW-61). Την εκδήλωση οργάνωσε το Συμβούλιο της Ευρώπης σε συνεργασία με τις Μόνιμες Αντιπροσωπείες της Κύπρου, Βουλγαρίας, Βελγίου, Ανδόρας και Λιχτενστάιν. 
Σεξιστική ρητορική μίσους είναι μια μοφής βίας κατά των γυναικών και κοριτσιών που διαιωνίζεται και επιδεινώνει την ανισότητα των φύλων. Παράλληλα υπονομεύει την ελευθερία έκφρασης γυναικών και κοριτσιών και έχει σοβαρές και αρνητικές συναισθηματικές ή/και φυσιολογικές επιπτώσεις. 
Σκοπός της εκδήλωσης ήταν να συζητηθούν οι αιτίες και οι μορφές της σεξιστικής ρητορικής μίσους, ποιοί είναι οι στόχοι τους, που στοχεύουν, και τι επιπτώσεις και μέτρα που απαιτούνται για την καταπολέμηση της.
Στην εν λόγω εκδήλωση μίλησαν η Eva Fehringer, Πρόεδρος της Ισότητας Φίλων του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης, η  Μαίρη Παπαδόπουλου, Πρόεδρος της Κυπριακής Ομοσπονδίας Γυναικών Επιχειρηματιών Επαγγελματιών, η Isabelle Simonis,Υπουργός Eκπαίδευσης Ενηλίκων, Νεολαίας, Δικαιωμάτων Γυναικών και Ίσων Ευκαιριών του Βελγίου, η Carmen Moreno, Εκτελεστική Γραμματέας του Οργανισμού Αμερικανικών Κρατών (ΟΑS) και η Genoveva Tisheva, Διευθύνων Σύμβουλος του Ιδρύματος Ερευνών των Φύλων της Βουλγαρίας ενώ συντονιστής ήταν η Marja Ruotanen, Διευθύντρια της Ανθρώπινης Αξιοπρέπειας και Ισότητας του Συμβουλίου της Ευρώπης.

Questions Answered by the president of BPW Cyprus – Ms. Mary Papadopoulos

1.The anonymity that social media allows has facilitated the dissemination of sexist hate speech. Are there ways and measures that can be taken to control or regulate the content that is posted on social media?

Although social media has brought many people together, it has also created a new ‘playground’ for bullies, including those targeting women in particular. Women who are targeted via facebook, twitter and sms can usually identify the offender. But offenders who want to maintain their anonymity can easily operate under a false name.
The same anonymity is easy to maintain on a whole series of smartphone apps, where users can send messages to other users of the same app, even without knowing them personally or even being ‘friends’ (such as on facebook). The easier it is to remain anonymous, the harder it is to track offenders and take action against them.
While some social media and app companies claim they have introduced measures to deter or remove abusive posts, this rarely happens promptly or consistently.
So for the time being, a victim’s only defense is to shut down any networking platform where she is being targeted. The problem is that by then, the damage has already been done. One way to minimize the pain is to raise awareness of this problem, so victims do not feel like outsiders, but realize that they are not alone in this, and that this is a widespread problem. The more we acknowledge the existence of this problem, the better we can cope with it, because solving it becomes a collective effort, rather than an individual struggle, or something some women might even blame themselves for…

2.Sexist hate speech can have a serious and long-term impact on women. What can be done to support victims and remedy the damage caused to them?

The negative impact of sexist hate speech is hard to overstate. It affects the victims emotionally and psychologically. It causes depression and anxiety, because victims feel shame and fear at the same time. They fear that they themselves but also their family are threatened. So it becomes a serious health and safety issue.
It is interesting to note which women in particular seem to be the main targets of sexist hate speech:
– gender equality activists
– young women
– women in politics
– women in the media
– women in high-ranking positions
So to a great extent, they are women who have ‘dared’ to penetrate the conventional ‘male territories’, especially politics and business.
The impact is hard to define – different women react in different ways.
Some women withdraw to avoid exposure to their offenders. This might be as ‘simple’ as withdrawing from social media. But if they are being targeted in the workplace, they might easily lose interest in their work, their jobs and their careers. This can be life-changing. It could limit their advancement opportunities or even cause them to lose their jobs – and their income. In such cases, this has an enormous negative impact not only on the victim herself, but on her partner or her family.
Basically there are only two ways a woman can respond:
1. She suffers in silence. This will lead to the emotional, psychological, and physical / material damage I just mentioned, which only becomes worse over time, and allows the offenders to continue targeting them and others.
2. They find the courage to speak up, to expose and denounce the offenders. Usually this starts in a private circle. What happens after that depends on the reaction of those she confides in. This is where it is imperative that we raise public awareness, to make sure that victims are supported and encouraged to expose offenders, not just in private but also in public. They must be reported and taken to court. Sexist hate speech is a crime that must be punished. That is the only way to eliminate it. It is the only solution to this horrible problem. As in so many other cases, if we are not part of the solution, we will become part of the problem.

CONCLUSION
If we want to effectively fight sexist hate speech, we must acknowledge that there are three parties involved: the offender, the victim, and the general public. To be successful, we must tackle the problem in a holistic way, addressing all three parties.
• The general public must become aware of the extent and severity of the problem, and must understand the importance of supporting and protecting the victims.
• The victim must be assured, that she is NOT to blame, that there is no shame involved. She must be encouraged to expose the offenders. But to do that, she must be assured that she and her family will be safe.
• Finally, the offenders must be punished. They must know, see and feel that their actions have consequences and will not be tolerated.

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