Online violence against women 'flourishing', and most common on Facebook, survey finds

A landmark survey has revealed shocking accounts of escalating online violence against girls and women across more than 20 countries, with respondents exposed to explicit messages, pornographic photos, cyberstalking and other forms of internet abuse.

Attacks are most common on Facebook, followed by Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the Plan International survey.

The charity, which focuses on equality for girls, surveyed 14,071 teenagers and young woman aged 15-25 across 22 countries, including Australia, Canada, Brazil, Benin, Japan, Zambia and the US between 1 April and 5 May.

The poll found that in Australia, 65% of 1,000 respondents had been exposed to a spectrum of online violence, compared with the global figure of 58%. Half of those who had experienced harassment in Australia suffered mental and emotional distress as a result. One in five Australian girls and young women had feared for their physical safety due to online threats.

Across all girls and women surveyed, the most common type of online harm was abusive and insulting language (reported by 59% of respondents), followed by deliberate embarrassment (41%) as well as body shaming and threats of sexual violence (both 39%).

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