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Gender Health and Safety  

Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.



Directory of UN Resources on Gender and Women's Issues:


Cyber-Safety Resources:


  • “Cyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.”  

  • “Cyber-bullying is not limited to personal attacks or children. Cyber-harassment, referred to as cyber-stalking when involving adults, takes place in the workplace or on company web sites, blogs or product reviews.”  Source:


Background materials: 

Survey and stats

A new survey conducted by network security company StreamShield suggests, they say, that women tend to practice safer surfing than do men, as well as being generally safer and more cautious when it comes to viruses, phishing, and other Internet pitfalls.

 However, the numbers, as with all surveys, are open to interpretation. As you probably all know, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. As that irreverent news reporting agency The Register has pointed out, does this survey really say that women get fewer online nasties, or does it really say that they are less likely to recognize them, and that men are less likely to admit that they got duped by the nasties? Here’s what StreamShield has to say: LONDON, August 26, 2005 Female PC and internet users are less likely to succumb to threats such as viruses and receive junk in their inboxes than male users thats according to research carried out by MORI on behalf of StreamShield Networks.

 In every category surveyed, women experienced fewer difficulties when online. For example, 46 of men reported that their PC had been infected with a virus compared with 38 of women, and 50 of men experienced excessive spam versus 38 of women. Men also experienced more unwanted pop up ads, with 74 reporting this compared with 69 of women. In addition, whilst 29 of male PC and Internet users reported having received a fraudulent email from a source pretending to be a financial institution asking for their banking details, this was true of only 16 of female users. Similarly, whilst 8 of men had experienced online fraud, only 4 of women had been victims. Despite these figures there is some positive news for men as they appear to have better overall awareness of Internet threats. For instance, nearly all (97) male PC and Internet users know what a computer virus is versus 92 of female users. The same is also true of other terms including Spyware (66 of men are aware of the term compared with 47 of women), Adware (51 men, 29 women), Phishing (37 men, 18 women) and Key loggers (27 men, 10 women).

 Geoff Bennett, Director of Product Marketing at StreamShield comments: The research findings show there is a clear difference between the male and female experience when online. One possible reason for this is that the two sexes may be using the Internet differently. Either way, men do appear to be more vulnerable than women when online and are laying themselves open to falling victim to fraud scams and other annoyances. Either way, there’s an education job that needs to be done across both genders as awareness of these threats overall is far too low and at the moment this is one battle of the sexes which men are evidently losing.

 Bennett concludes: “Most people are familiar with or use the Internet on a daily basis, yet many people still don’t understand basic security issues they are facing. Simple steps such as keeping virus checkers and operating system patches up-to-date, treating emails claiming to come from banks with suspicion and not downloading attachments can prevent some of the more basic attacks. However, in the long term, Internet threats are going to become more and more complex and it is vital that if the public are to be reassured, then Internet service providers need to play their part in blocking and cleaning all Internet traffic, removing any malicious content before it can reach users PCs.

 The internet can help. Many people find the internet a useful source of information and support. This includes people who may experience violence from a partner or other family member. For example, you can find information online about your legal rights and options, and what services are available. Many people find it useful to read about other people's experiences of violence, and what has helped them. You can contact many support services confidentially via email. Email is also a good way to keep in touch with friends or family, especially if you may be moving addresses a lot. It can even be a way to store information electronically. For example, you can scan important documents and email them to a private Yahoo email account.

Safety matters. However, it is important to learn how to use the internet safely, especially if you are living with a person who may use violence against you. Remember, family violence is not just physical. It can also include emotional or verbal abuse, threatening you, or anything else that makes you feel unsafe. Sometimes people who use violence can be very controlling, for example trying to check up on or control what you do, who you see or where you go. You may not want them to be able to find out which websites you have visited, or to read emails you have sent, especially if they relate to family violence. This section covers a number of issues related to safer internet use. We have tried to keep the language simple, but some sections are a bit technical, especially for people without much computer experience. It might be useful to refer to a glossary of the terms used. There are also people that can help, including family violence support workers like those at Women's Health West. Safety tips: General safety tips, Using email safety, Safe surfing


Harassment and bullying in the work place

This UK site has some good guidelines for harassment and bullying in the work place and draws special attention to the need for employers to be aware of ‘cyber bullying’. Among other things the article looks at a) what is meant by harassment and bullying, b) What do harassment and bullying in the work place look like, c) the legal position, d) what are some of the responsibilities that employers and employees have in this regard. Some generic cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment guidelines could be built around this material.


Many employers are unclear on how to tackle cyber-bullying because it is a sensitive subject. There are a few guidelines that a company should be aware of. Firstly have a proper IT usage policy in place, and ensure that every employee is aware of the policy and the fact that the company can, and will, police the company communication systems. Employees should only be given access to instant messaging and mail systems that can be audited and checked. Employers should also ensure that they have a communicated grievance procedures in place to deal with any potential cyber bullying problems. Employees should be made aware that the IT systems and computers are company property and that any data or information on these systems is the property of the company and not the individual user. Etc.


One in 10 UK employees believes cyber bullying is a problem in their workplace, research has revealed.



Discusses some of the concepts from the women and girl point of view.


The new Code of Conduct: ‘Untag, Block, Delete’.
MySpace is recommending users delete, untag, block and report people who:

  • Send: threatening messages, emails and texts.

  • Harass or threaten the people in my network.

  • Tamper with or otherwise alter another person’s online profile/blog/email with the specific intent to damage their reputations.

  • Pressure me to give out personal and private information, with the intent of forwarding it on to others.

  • Post images, videos, or text that is seen to be offensive, whether on their own profile or the profile of others.

  • Film or post images or videos (doctored or otherwise) with the purpose of degrading others (especially if it was filmed or photographed without their knowledge or consent).

  • Spread rumours or false information about others online or via text message.

  • Mask or hide their identity or adopt someone else’s identity with the intent to humiliate, intimidate or harass.

  • Forward false information or offensive or humiliating images, video or text, even if they didn’t create the original content.

  • Stand by and watch any of these things go on without acting.







  • How to Prevent Online Harassment Happening to You (for women/girls)

    • Never put up your address, full date of birth, or phone number on your page, even on a private account. Who do you think is going to need it? Brad Pitt has better things to do than ring when he sees your profile picture.

    • Never reveal information like you first primary school, mothers maiden name, etc, these are security question answers that can be used to hack into your account.

    • Set your settings to private where possible and disable photo and video sharing so no one can steal your image.

    • Never reply to abusive forum posts and messages and report them to the moderators or webmaster instead.

    • Remember that people are not always who they say they are. Don't give out personal information in chat rooms (even if the person is very cute).

    • Report fake profiles straight away to the admin. Don't try and confront the person yourself.

    • Don't post anything up you wouldn't want your mother to see. You think it says "Sex kitten". Someone else will see "Up for it".

    • ...and finally. Don't tell anyone your password


 National Strategies: 







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Updated : 2009-03-04