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Terms of Silence

Weaknesses in Corporate and Law Enforcement Responses to Cyberviolence against Girls

Suzanne Dunn, Julie S. Lalonde and Jane Bailey

Keywords: cyberbullying; feminism; human rights; police; reporting; social media

Girls do not need merely to be empowered with technological know-how in order to engage fully online. While girls use digital and social media for self-expression, activism, and identity experimentation, their engagement is too often interfered with by online gender policing and by being attacked for daring to challenge conventional stereotypes. Reshaping the online environment in ways that address this discrimination meaningfully requires a multifaceted approach that includes transparent, responsive, and accessible redress through both social media platforms and, where necessary, law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, these institutions all too often fail to respond adequately when girls report acts of cyberviolence committed against them. This article illustrates this failure by drawing on lessons learned from coauthor Julie S. Lalonde’s experiences in advocating online for gender equality. It also raises the troubling concern of law enforcement deference to corporate terms of service rather than to Canadian law.

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