Fahdah Al Areifi-1670320049566
Fahdah Al Areifi during an interview with Al Ekhbariya TV. Image Credit: Al Ekhbariya TV

Cairo: Over 60 per cent of women in the Arab world have experienced “digital violence’, according to a Saudi expert.

The term digital violence refers to misuse of mobile phones, computers and social media as well as cyber bullying.

“This is the worst kind of violence because the victim deals with an anonymous person,” intellectual security and behaviour adjustment specialist Fahdah Al Arefi added.

In an interview with the Saudi television Al Ekhbariya, she cited UN figures showing that around 85 per cent of women around the world and more than 60 per cent in the Arab nation have experienced this violence.

Women and girls, minorities and the marginalised are most likely to have their images abused online, subjected to slurs and demeaning non-consensual sexual acts, according to the UN Population Fund.

Common aspects

"This rising tide of misogynist hate and violence is devastating for those who experience it. Yet it is ignored by tech companies and policymakers who continue to place greater value and protections on copyright than they do on human beings and our rights online," said the agency.

Experts have identified various forms of digital gender violence. Their most common aspects include unauthorised account access and control; dissemination of intimate photos or private information; use of spyware and identity theft.

Cyberviolence is an increasing global problem, which is often gender-based and targeting women and girls, the Council of Europe, a major human rights grouping, has warned.

Forms of online violence against women can entail cyber harassment, revenge porn and threats of rape, sexual assault or murder, explained the organisation.

"Violence and abuse online may limit women’s right to express themselves equally, freely and without fear, women are often silenced."

The council said perpetrators of digital violence against females can be partners or ex-partners, colleagues, or, as is often the case, anonymous individuals.