Research & resources

APC Women's Rights Programme Issue Papers

The following research was undertaken by the Association for Progressive Communications Women's Rights Programme together with our partners. This research explores the intersection between the internet and violence against women, women's rights, sexuality and sexual rights.

Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), this project is based on a strong alliance with partners in seven countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, and Philippines. The research involves case studies in those countries, analysis of social media platform policies and reporting mechanisms and an exploration of legislative trends and solutions. Published papers and their summaries can be accessed through, listed below:

This briefing document highlights key issues on internet regulation that are relevant for gender equality and sexuality. It also brings to the debate findings from various research initiatives undertaken by APC and key partners, including a cross-country research initiative - EROTICS - that is being conducted in five countries: Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa and the United States.

It is obvious that the discourse around content regulation has shifted mostly towards the protection of children from harmful content and child pornography on the internet. Any references to gender-related concerns were dropped, including even problematic conceptions that women and children need the paternalistic protection of the state or international bodies from harmful content. One can speculate that this could possibly mean (in a positive sense) that women are no longer viewed only as “victims” and because of their own agency do not require the protectionist attitude of the state. Or, on the other hand, women’s movements, feminists and others working on gender have encountered and realised the hazards of demanding protection from the state, in the interests of their own freedom of expression and because of their alliances with civil society, non-governmental organisations and social movements.

This discussion paper asks if new technologies are re-shaping or facilitating trafficking, and/or if the use of ICTs in trafficking will change the way we understand other issues. The paper is a joint publication of AWID and the APC WRP The first section of this paper lays the foundations for discussing ICTs and trafficking and defines these terms. The examples were provided by activists and advocates around the world who are working on trafficking or ICTs or on both issues. The paper then goes on to explore three pivotal and at times controversial questions in relation to the role of ICTs and trafficking. Does the role of ICTs matter or is it a fashionable distraction from serious countertrafficking work? Can we talk of trafficking in images or does trafficking only apply to people? Is consideration of privacy in relation to ICTs contrary to counter-trafficking work or an essential part of a broader movement to create safety and freedom for individuals and communities? Finally, the paper asks what action can and is being taken, by governments, feminists, NGOs, and other actors.

This paper explores the connection between new information communication technologies (ICTs) and violence against women (VAW). From the perspective of representation and rapid dissemination of information and communication enabled through ICTs, the paper looks at domestic violence in the homes, sexual violence and women in conflict affected areas. It presents case studies, strategies and analysis on these different areas. The study is the part of APC WRP issue papers series on ICTs for women's rights.

This briefing relies on new research into how new technologies are being used by abusers and by women fighting back. The cases were uncovered in research commissioned by the Association for Progressive Communications in 12 developing countries in 2009.

More resources

Below are a list of additional resources on the issue of violence against women and ICT that we have compiled. Add to the list of resources by tagging us under, or send us an email.

  • Gender and electronic privacy
    This site by Electronic Privacy Frontier, is designed to elucidate types of privacy violations that have been used to exploit women in particular, including cyberstalking, pretexting, and video voyeurism. It focus on electronic privacy.
  • Domestic violence and privacy project
    This site provides information on EPIC's domestic violence and privacy project. The project is designed to help practitioners with privacy issues their clients may face. The goal of the project is to aid the domestic violence community in addressing these issues.
  • Sample policies on online abuse
    The page by WHO@ (Working to Halt Online Abuse) contains examples of policies that may be adopted by websites and website administrators. Samples range in level of restraint and severity.
  • Online safety toolkit for women
    The BC Rural Women’s Network, sponsored by the Vernon Women’s Centre Society, developed this online safety toolkit addressing Online Safety for Women. This toolkit has information that addresses women’s safety when using the internet and email communications. The website is broken down into sections on general safety practices when using the internet, privacy rights, and safety information when chatting online, using email, or browsing.
  • CyberStalked: Our story
    The story of Cynthia Armistead, the founder of the site Cyberstalked. The site originally began as a place to refute the defamation spread about Cynthia and her family across the internet. In this story, Cynthia shares her and her daughter's experience of being target of online harassment and stalking over period of several years.
  • Cyberstalking laws
    The page consists of links to current and pending cyberstalking-related United States federal and state laws, as well as those states that do not have laws yet and related laws from other countries such as Australia, India and the UK.
  • The use of new Communication and Information Technologies for the sexual exploitation of women and children
    This is one of the earliest comprehensive research that looks at the ways ICTs have been used in situations of sexual exploitation. It's written by Donna M. Hughes, in 2002, and published by Hastings Women Law Journal.
  • Keep your chats exactly that
    Campaign by WomensNet that aims to empower young people from becoming victims of violence or harassment when they use the internet and cell phones. They also aim to help young people use these tools as ways to call for change to problems they face. The campaign brochure provides concrete suggestions on how to deal with different situations where violence or harassment may occur.
  • Take Back The Tech on
    This page lists down all recent information and resources available on the internet that relates to the campaign issue. They are shared by campaigners with accounts and consist of information in multiple languages. Check back often to see new information and resources that have been shared.