We, the signatories of this appeal, have been campaigning for a long time against hate speech and digital violence. As politically active people, we tirelessly point out the gender-specific aspects of these attacks. In recent months and at present, there has been an increasing discussion about verbal sexualised violence on the net against politically active women. However, too little attention is paid to incidents in the private sphere, although the daily practice of the competent counseling centers, in particular, is showing a marked increase in digital violence and more and more victims are in urgent need of help.
Digital violence is real. We point out the violence perpetrated on the internet, and call it out clearly and unambiguously as what it is, instead of downplaying it as an „internet outrage culture“ or „dissenting opinions“.
Digital violence and hate speech are an attack on the psychological and physical integrity of each individual. Women, in particular, are currently the target of this hatred. When whole groups of people are restricted in their participation in social debates and developments, it is also an attack on the freedom of expression of our society as a whole.
When several forms of discrimination occur at once, such as sexism, racism, queer hostility, or hostility towards people with disabilities, the attacks on the net are usually all the more violent and all the more frequent. Hate speech also aims to drive women, especially black women and women of color as well as non-binary, trans and inter persons, out of the public sphere.
Digital violence often comes from the intimate environment of those affected. Whether in the form of hate comments, doxing, online stalking, or unauthorized sharing of nude pictures: existing structures and dynamics of violence are always continued or supplemented. In this way, the internet as an infrastructure strengthens the discriminatory views and attitudes already existing in our society. This development ultimately leads to a social rollback and is a danger to our democracy.
In recent years, more and more organizations, activists, and initiatives have committed themselves to the fight against hate speech and digital violence. We welcome that! But now it is time to take the next step:
Digital violence and hate speech are problems for society as a whole, which is why we must make the fight to stop this form of violence against women a concern for all!
As experts, we are aware that digital violence and hate speech are complex problem areas. Our following list of demands is far from exhaustive, but they are a beginning and a call to actively change something!
1. Create awareness of the problem!
- We call for a public debate that focuses on the gender-specific aspects of digital violence and hate speech and clearly identifies the intersectionality with other forms of discrimination, such as racism, antisemitism, or hostility towards people with disabilities.
- This requires wide-ranging awareness campaigns by public institutions and political decision-makers, which always embed digital violence and hate speech in existing forms of violence and power dynamics.
- The campaigns should sensitise people to the various forms of digital violence, inform those affected where they can get help, and explain to those who are not affected, how they can support others.
2. Create structures for law enforcement!
- We call for the establishment of special prosecution offices for digital violence and hate speech.
- Law enforcement authorities and courts must be staffed, technically equipped and trained in such a way that they can deal with violations of criminal law on the internet in a timely manner and in accordance with the needs of those affected.
- To this end, it is also necessary to raise awareness of the reporting possibilities and civil law measures for those affected and to look at and dismantle hurdles to law enforcement.
- The police and judiciary must also be informed about information and counselling services on digital violence and hate speech, to be able to refer to them.
3. Promote and expand existing information and advice centres!
- There is already a broad network of information and counselling centres that work on gender-based violence, and which also help those affected by digital violence and hate speech.
- These entities must be able to work independently and be available to those affected without barriers and free of charge.
- To this end, the financing of information and advice centres must be guaranteed on a long-term and sustainable basis.
- The responsible counsellors must be trained on the various forms of digital violence and their consequences and be given the opportunity to further their technical knowledge.
- Social media service providers must be held even more accountable by also bearing the costs of the comprehensive range of advisory services, while at the same time respecting the independence of the information and advice centres.
4. Update and expand research on gender-based violence!
- Counselling centres already see the growing extent of digital violence and hate speech in everyday practice.
- In order to support those affected even better and to be able to develop preventive educational measures, the work of the counselling centres and civil society initiatives must be underpinned by concrete data from Germany on frequency, affectedness, different forms of violence, etc.
- For example, we need an urgent update of the 2004 representative study on violence against women in Germany by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), because the study lacks essential information on gender-specific digital violence.
- Furthermore, the police should also compile gender-specific statistics on digital violence.
Renate Künast, MdB Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen
Anne Wizorek, Autorin, Aktivistin, #aufschrei
Sawsan Chebli, SPD, Bevollmächtigte des Landes Berlin beim Bund, Staatssekretärin für Bürgerschaftliches Engagement und Internationales
Christina Dinar, Center for Internet and Human Rights (CIHR)
Dr.Nadine Dinig, Anwältin
Barbara Djassi & Hanna Gleiß, Das NETTZ – Vernetzungsstelle gegen Hate Speech
Anke Domscheit-Berg, MdB Die Linke, netzpolitische Sprecherin der Linksfraktion im Bundestag
Dr. Laura Dornheim, Sprecherin AG Digitales und Netzpolitik B90 / Die Grünen Berlin
Kübra Gümüsay, Autorin und Aktivistin
Katja Grieger & Anna Hartmann, Bundesverband Frauenberatungsstellen und Frauennotrufe Frauen gegen Gewalt e.V.
Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, HateAid
Sina Laubenstein, No Hate Speech Movement
Petra Pau, MdB Die Linke, Vizepräsidentin des Deutschen Bundestages
Anne Roth, Netz-Aktivistin und Referentin für Netzpolitik der Fraktion Die Linke im Bundestag
Claudia Roth, MdB Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, Vizepräsidentin des Deutschen Bundestages
Francesca Schmidt, Gunda-Werner-Institut für Feminismus und Geschlechterdemokratie der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
Jasna Strick, Autorin, Aktivistin, #aufschrei
Konstantina Vassiliou-Enz, Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen
Prof. Dr. Maria Wersig, Hochschullehrerin, Präsidentin Deutscher Juristinnenbund e.V.
Amina Yousaf, stellvertretenden SPD-Bezirksvorsitzende Hannover
Support the call!
The best way to support the call against digital violence is to spread it yourself!
On social media you can use the Hashtag #WebWithoutViolence.