Online violence against women in politics in Latin America is becoming more and more frequent, affecting women’s right to participate in democracy. In countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and many others, female politicians are attacked on social media platforms in attempts to undermine their political legitimacy, for reasons associated with their gender.
A growing number of initiatives have been undertaken to fight against this concerning trend. This blog post (which is by no means an exhaustive list!) lists just a few examples of the inspiring work being done in the region.
At the end, we’ve included a list of initiatives offering hands-on emergency digital security support in the region as well.
Cielito Saravia from Internet Bolivia wrote this guide to help women in politics identify harassment and political violence online and to strengthen their defence capabilities against digital attacks. Internet Bolivia also has an interactive guide to support women who are suffering tech facilitated gender based violence, and a guide focusing on digital security for women politicians in office.
In Chile, where 67% of women candidates receive violent messages during campaigns, #TomaPartido published a digital security guide, written by Paz Peña, that takes a feminist approach for people and organisations facing digital political violence. The guide offers information about some of the most common attacks as well as practical steps for improving digital security. It’s available in Spanish and Portuguese.
In Colombia, where recent legislation was created to fight political violence against women, Fundación Karisma has been doing research to define digital violence against women politicians in the country and understand its consequences for their work and life. In this publication, they offer recommendations for political movements on how to navigate digital violence against women in politics.
- The initiative MonitorA, from Azmina and InternetLab, looks at the different forms that gendered political violence takes in the country to keep women and trans people out of politics. In its mapping of misogyny and online attacks against women in politics, MonitorA has found staggering evidence: in the first week of electoral campaigning in 2022, almost 4.5k attacks or insults were directed at women candidates on Twitter.
- The project coLAB at Universidade Federal Fluminense created the Mapa da Violência Política de Gênero em Plataformas Digitais, highlighting the intensity, type and various forms of political gendered violence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
- Since 2020, Instituto Marielle Franco has been researching and monitoring political violence in Brazil, and showing how gendered and racialised it is. They have mapped 8 types of political violence suffered by over 140 Black women candidates in the country, and their work has consistently shown that whether Black women are elected or not they remain unprotected against these forms of violence. Through “Não Seremos Interrompidas”, they’ve been advocating for local authorities to act against political violence that has kept Black women and LGBTQIA+ from accessing and safely occupying political power.
- InternetLab and Redes Cordiais published a guide to help women candidates who face gendered political violence. Mulheres Negras Decidem, a movement working to strengthen Brazil’s democracy by supporting Black women in politics, wrote a Digital Care Guide to support activists and politicians and Coalizão Direitos na Rede and Coding Rights published this mini digital protection guide for elections.
Central America and the Dominican Republic
Ipandetec, an organisation working in Central America and the Dominican Republic has done research monitoring online gender based violence against women in politics in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. They also run Seguras En Línea, a project aiming to mitigate digital gender violence in Central America and the Dominican Republic.
Fundación Acceso is working in Central America to promote digital security and holistic protection for organisations and people defending human rights. With Observatorio Centroamericano de Seguridad Digital, they’ve been analysing digital security incidents of human rights defenders and organisations in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, showing that violence against women human rights defenders is pervasive in the region.
Research covering Latin America
In 2022, the Alianza Regional por la libre expresión e información conducted an extensive qualitative study on online gender violence towards women with a public voice in Latin America and its impact on freedom of expression. They gathered cases from women in Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Support lines for digital security emergencies
If you need hands-on, emergency digital security support, there are a number of initiatives that can help you. Here are some of them:
- Acoso.Online has an online emergency repository sharing direct access to different materials with information on how to proceed in the face of gender based violence online.
- Internet Bolivia has an active support line available for women, teenage girls, journalists, women in politics and activists, LGBTIQ+ persons who need support navigating gender based violence in digital spaces
- Hiperderecho created Tecnoresistencias, a space for women, dissent, diversity, and activists who resist gender violence on the internet.
- Vita Activais a helpline providing online support and strategic solutions for women and LGBTIQ+ journalists, activists and gender, land and labour rights, and freedom of expression defenders.
- Maria D’Ajuda is the first digital security helpline run by feminists in Brazil aimed at women, non-binary people, LGBTQIAP+ and organisations in Latin America.
- Luchadoras, in Mexico, has a helpline to support people experiencing gender-based violence online.
- Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline works with individuals and organisations around the world to keep them safe online.