On Saturday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) joined many world countries in supporting the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
In a statement, the UNSMIL said that violence against women and girls in its various forms has been on the rise in Libya. This includes verbal, physical, or sexual violence, so-called ‘honor crimes’, and online violence against women.
“Today, I join the United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign to end violence against women by 2030 and call upon all relevant Libyan stakeholders to take serious and active steps to combat violence against women and girls in Libya,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily.
The UN mission added that similar to many countries around the globe, Libya needs to establish a strong legal system to address violence against women and girls, including enacting proper laws to ensure the protection of victims of violence.
It noted that laws also must guarantee the provision of adequate services for women and girls to support them and help hold perpetrators to account.
“Violence against women and girls comes in many shapes and forms; most recently it has evolved to include online harassment, threats, and exploitation” the statement read.
The UNSMIL indicated that, in accordance with anecdotal information and data, women are victims of online violence including receiving inappropriate messages, hate speech, and blackmailing.
It added, “With the use of social media increasing in Libya, increased protection against online abuse and harassment are needed”.
“Women should be empowered and protected to express their views on the political, economic, and social developments of their countries,” said SRSG Bathily.
The UN Mission also encouraged all Libyan authorities to promote an environment that respects freedom of expression and combats hate speech and violence against women and girls.
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