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GREVIO, General Recommendation No.1 on the digital dimension of violence against women

On 24 November 2021, the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) published its General Recommendation No.1 on the digital dimension of violence against women. Ten years ago, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) was opened for signature. Yet, the road to combat violence against women is long.

In monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, GREVIO observed that the digital dimension of violence against women is often overlooked in domestic laws and policies. Thus, in its General Recommendation No.1 it introduced the definition “digital dimension of violence against women” as comprehensive of acts of violence perpetrated online – such as sharing humiliating images, insults and threats of death and rape – and through technology, including technology yet to be developed – such as tracking technology reported on by cyber security companies.

The Recommendation calls for action to prevent perpetrators from controlling a woman’s ability without her consent to acquire, use and maintain economic resources by controlling bank accounts and financial activities through internet banking. It promotes digital literacy and online safety in formal curricula and at all levels of education, and training on digital expressions of violence against women for relevant actors – such as law-enforcement and criminal justice professionals, members of the judiciary and health-care staff.

Furthermore, it builds on the chapter of the2019 Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to all member States on preventing and combating sexism devoted to online sexist abuse and it provides potential opportunities for synergies between the Istanbul Convention and the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention (Budapest Convention).

In a joint statement the Italian Minister for equal opportunities and family, Elena Bonetti, and the Council of Europe Secretary-General, Marija Pejčinović Burić, declared: “we cannot stand idle as online threats of gender-based violence are increasing, especially because online violence easily spills over to the “physical” world”.