Revenge Porn Helpline Manager Speaks Out Against Online Harassment of Women

Sophie Mortimer, Manager of the Revenge Porn Helpline, is regularly invited to events across the globe to share best practice and influence positive change. Her latest visit, to a conference at Facebook in New York, was another opportunity to highlight the work that the Helpline does in the wider global fight against the online harassment of women.

Each year, Facebook holds a Global Safety and Well-Being Summit, inviting representatives from around the world to participate in a series of presentations, panel discussions and networking events with the aim of raising awareness of online safety issues and engaging in efforts to make the internet a safer place for all of us. This year, the focus was on online harassment of women, bullying, young people’s mental health and suicide prevention.

I was invited to attend and take part in sessions focused on the online harassment of women. Intimate image abuse is a crime that disproportionately affects women: nearly 70% of our clients are female and the vast majority of perpetrators are male. Facebook asked me to prepare a presentation on the work of the Helpline in the Pecha Kucha format: 20 slides with 20 seconds to talk per slide: that’s a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Which isn’t long, but it’s trickier than you’d think to put together. I gave the presentation at a networking reception the evening before the summit. I was in great company, including Nighat Dad from Pakistan’s Digital Rights Foundation and Project Rockit’s Rosie Thomas. 

In the afternoon I was on a panel discussing the work of organisations like ours which support people who are suffering intimate image abuse. I was joined by Nighat Dad, Michelle Gonzales from the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative in the US and Professor Ji-yeon Lee from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies South Korea. I highlighted the impact that the sharing of intimate images has on victims and Nighat Dad outlined the additional issues women face when reporting such incidents to the police in Pakistan. Professor Lee talked about the prevalence in recent months of spycams in public spaces in South Korea and Michelle Gonzales announced the upcoming presentation of the SHIELD Act in the US, designed to make revenge porn a federal crime. 

Facebook delivered a great opportunity to connect with people working in the online safety sphere around the world. Conversations were started that I hope will run and run as we share good practice and ideas to make the online world a safer place for everyone.

Watch Sophie at Facebook here.

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