Ireland must play its part in the European fight against gender-based cyberviolence, a Fine Gael MEP has said.
Maria Walsh, Midlands-North-West MEP, has been leading work in the European Parliament on this growing issue. As a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), MEP Walsh has led the work on the file ‘Combating Gender Based Violence: Cyber Violence’.
This week in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs are set to vote on a report tackling all forms of cyberviolence. Debates will take place on Monday December 13th with the final vote taking place on Tuesday December 14th.
MEP Walsh said, “The European Commission announced last week that it will adopt an EU-wide Directive on violence against women and domestic violence. This would include the criminalisation of serious forms of gender-based hate crime and hate speech both online and offline.
“This is a massive step forward for the EU, and a great result at the end of a long and persistent process, including my work on the file dedicated to making gender-based violence a European level crime, which was finally voted in September 2021.
“This is an incredible and much needed step forward for women’s rights in the EU.
“I want to see Ireland implement it as soon as possible and play its part in the European fight against cyberviolence and the abuse of women and girls.”
MEP Walsh has been dedicated to this topic, as a champion for equality, particularly given her work for women’s rights and LGBTI+ community members. Her work led to the reference of a prominent Irish incident within the file text. The incident, which occurred in 2020, involved links to almost 500,000 WhatsApp chats including sensitive images of women and girls. Earlier this year, MEP Walsh held a constructive and informative roundtable on cyberviolence to ensure all voices were heard. The roundtable involved multiple Irish organizations such as Maynooth Students’ Union, GMIT Students’ Union, CyberSafeKids, Young Fine Gael, FG Women’s Network and many more.
MEP Walsh continued, “The European Commission is currently preparing an EU campaign on victims’ rights with a budget of two million euro, which will have a special focus on victims of gender-based violence, domestic violence and LGBTIQ hate crime.
“This will be a valuable tool in raising awareness of this crime. We must put a stop to online abuse. It is simply not good enough for the European Union and policy makers across member states and platforms to fail to protect our citizens online, especially our women and girls.”