StopHate Project Aims to Combat Hateful Attacks on Women in Politics and Public Life

In an effort to address the pervasive issue of hateful attacks against women involved in politics and public life, the StopHate project has been launched with the objective of collecting information from female academics, politicians, activists, and journalists about their experiences and contributing to their protection. The project, which also includes the production of a handbook for parliament with proposed actions, aims to shed light on the extent of the problem and provide concrete measures to combat it.

At a recent press conference, Veronika Sprincova, the head of the 50% Forum organization dedicated to achieving gender-balanced representation in politics and decision-making, presented the preliminary findings of the project. The research conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union revealed that over 80% of female Members of Parliament in European countries have encountered violent treatment in various forms.

Sprincova emphasized that this issue is systemic and goes beyond individual incidents. Women often blame themselves, believing that they have said something wrong or that they look bad, but the reality is that these attacks are relentless regardless of their actions or words. The attacks are personal, targeting their appearance, intelligence, and even whether they have children. This gendered treatment starkly contrasts with the treatment of men in similar positions, where such ridicule and harassment are seldom observed.

In the Czech Republic, many female politicians and public figures face hateful and sexist attacks, both on social media platforms and in other public domains. Olga Richterova, a deputy speaker of the lower house and member of the Pirates party, resorted to legal action to combat disinformation about her. Similarly, Marketa Pekarova Adamova, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies from TOP 09, has received insults and threats. The prevalence of such attacks remains largely concealed, as individuals who are unaware of the problem fail to recognize the severity and frequency of these outbursts.

The #StopHate project, initiated in November of last year and slated to conclude in October, specifically focuses on women who are publicly active, including politicians, academics, activists, and journalists. It offers workshops to equip participants with strategies to cope with manipulation, harassment, and violence. Additionally, a comprehensive handbook outlining proposed measures for parliament is being developed, and an awareness-raising campaign will be organized. The project is supported by Norway Grants, which further underscores the significance of addressing this issue at a broader European level.

Simultaneously, the European Union is currently deliberating on a directive to combat violence, with the European Commission having presented a proposal in March of the previous year. The directive encompasses definitions of violence and places emphasis on punishment and prevention, potentially extending its reach to include cyber attacks. Monika Ladmanova, the head of the European Commission mission in Prague, highlighted the disproportionate impact of vulgarity, threats of rape, and physical harm on women, often leading them to retreat from social media platforms. This democratic deficit calls for urgent action.

Sprincova mentioned that some countries’ parliaments have already taken measures to address these undesirable phenomena. They are revising their rules of procedure and codes of ethics to make hateful and sexist speech unacceptable, coupled with appropriate sanctions for non-compliance.

The StopHate project serves as a critical step towards rectifying the issue of hateful attacks on women active in politics and public life. By raising awareness, providing support, and proposing concrete actions, the project aims to create a safer and more inclusive environment for women in these spheres, fostering gender equality and democratic values in society as a whole.

Article by Prague Forum

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