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Misogyny Online | Quebec urged to act against cyberviolence



(Quebec) Violent sexist comments. Unsolicited pornographic photos. Death threats. As the violence perpetrated on social networks increases, the instigators of the documentary I salute you bitch call on Quebec to legislate against those who attack with impunity on the web with the aim, they denounce, of silencing women. The Legault government promises to act.

In the foyer of the Parliament in Quebec, the documentary filmmaker Léa Clermont-Dion fulminates. She regrets that the unanimous denunciations of politicians during the election campaign against cyberviolence – when several elected officials, such as Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy, were the target of threats – did not lead the government to take action on this issue. .

“It was a flash in the pan, in the end, because nothing was done,” she denounces.

With the support of the three opposition groups, Clermont-Dion and its co-director, Guylaine Maroist, have filed a petition signed by more than 25,000 citizens who demand concrete action in Quebec. They ask the government to create training for police officers on supporting victims of cyberviolence and to table a motion to put pressure on Ottawa to legislate, as in Germany, in order to force the owners of social networks to moderate the content that is published on their sites.

In a written statement sent to The Pressthe Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, promises that he will study the requests made “with all the necessary rigor”.

“Cyberviolence is a hot topic that takes up a lot of space these days. This is an unacceptable phenomenon. The feelings of fear, loneliness and vulnerability experienced by the victims are terrible. I give them my full support. I brought this subject to the Prime Minister last week. I had the mandate to work actively, with my teams, to produce a plan to tackle this scourge. […] This is a priority for me,” he said.

A growing phenomenon

After appearing on the show Everybody talks about it, where she spoke about the “Stop cyberviolence” campaign, Léa Clermont-Dion was inundated with “sexist, derogatory messages, death threats and rape threats”. “It was not by chance. They got into a pack,” she explains.

The consequence of this cyberviolence, in many people who are victims of it, is to reduce them to silence, adds the documentary filmmaker.

When they present their film to female students, especially at university, many confide that they will never go into politics, knowing too well the fate that awaits them as women who speak out.

“The most pernicious effect of this misogyny is that, for fear of being attacked, more and more women keep silent and give up their right to speak in the public space. […] There, it is the right of freedom of expression of women which is at stake and it is democratic ”, estimates Guylaine Maroist.

A call to action

Quebec Solidarity MNA Ruba Ghazal recalls that “anyone in society can suffer this, and it has an impact”.


Léa Clermont-Dion and Quebec Solidarity MP Ruba Ghazal

“Those who inflict this violence on social networks, on the net, is to create a climate of insecurity, fear, and above all to silence women. Here, we are almost 50% in the National Assembly of Quebec. It has to mean something, ”says the member for Mercier.

Joël Arseneau of the Parti Québécois underlines for his part that the disinhibition of violence can be seen everywhere in the world. “What is worrying with what is denounced today is that misogyny is gaining ground through cyberspace and nothing is being done to counter it,” he said.

The Liberal Party of Quebec, which supports the claims of the instigators of the petition, was not present Monday at the press briefing.

Examples of cyberviolence

The “Stop cyberviolence” awareness campaign, launched with the release of the film I salute you bitch, lists the types of cyberviolence that exist on the internet. These violent behaviors are varied. They range from body shaming, which involves intimidating a person in relation to their physical appearance, to videolynching (when a group of people assault or humiliate a victim while an accomplice films the scene), but also “doxxing” (leaking an individual’s personal information without their consent in order to harm them) or “slut shaming”, which consists of “stigmatising and making women feel guilty whose attitude , behavior or physical appearance are deemed to be provocative”.

Certain types of cyberviolence, such as cyberstalking, suicide counseling, sexual exploitation and incitement to hatred, among others, are criminal offenses in Canada. There are several types of help from organizations to help people who are victims of cyberviolence, recalls the awareness campaign. In case of emergency, “call your neighborhood station [ou] 911”.

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