Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC) is proud to support the Racial and Religious Tolerance Amendment Bill 2019 as proposed by Fiona Patten, Leader of the Reason Party earlier today.
The Bill serves to amend and rename the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to extend those protections to vilification based on gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
A key focus of the Bill is to address online harassment, discrimination and vilification of marginalised groups. Online harassment is often targeted at women, and it can quickly escalate to more extreme and threatening forms of online abuse underpinned by misogyny, racism and homophobia. With almost half of all Australian women have experienced online harassment, it is time the law caught up.
Last year, The United Nations called for urgent action by states around the world to introduce new legislation to stamp out online and information and communications technology facilitated violence against women and girls.
In response, Gender Equity Victoria launched the Online Active Bystander Project – a world-first project to address sexual abuse and violence against women online through a program that educated people as to how to call out sexism and aggression on the internet. GEN VIC is also working with the Media Arts Entertainment Alliance (MEAA) to assist media organisations in understanding the gendered nature of violence and how it impacts women journalists online.
“We see this Bill as an important and necessary measure to address violence against women in online spaces and hold perpetrators to account. Systematic political change needs to occur in order for women and other marginalised groups to be safe both on and offline.”
“We know that to end violence against women, we need to prevent it before it occurs. Alongside this Bill, we need greater investment in preventing the online abuse before it occurs. GEN VIC’s Active Online Bystander is the only project of its kind in Australia, putting a spotlight on bystanders and community responsibility to create safe online spaces for women,” said Kit McMahon, Chair of GEN VIC.
Gender Equity Victoria wholeheartedly supports the Bill.