herald

Monday 18 December 2017

More women stalked online by jealous exes

phone bullies
phone bullies

YOUNG women deserve better legislation to tackle online harassment, according to Women's Aid.

A total of 12pc of Irish women have experienced stalking with half of those being stalked online or off by an ex-partner.

The domestic violence charity is calling for a threefold improvement in legislation to protect women, particularly those under 25, from abuse.

Women's Aid director Margaret Martin said that new laws will need to directly address these means of virtual harassment.

Specific stalking legislation is needed, according to the group, which would allow victims to apply for a safety order on grounds of stalking or harassment.

This would need to cover both physical and online stalking as online problems are increasing, say the association.

It may be that a woman's online activity is being scrutinised by a partner or an ex or that intimate photographs of her are published online.

"Sometimes there is spyware put on somebody's phone or he may have given you a present of a watch," she told the Herald.

"What we would hear from women is 'I don't know how he knows this' and it can often be very difficult to know what's going on. Sometimes it can start as just a vague sense of 'he knows too much'."

Meanwhile, younger women are at a high risk of domestic abuse, with 60pc of those who experience serious abuse doing so before they are 25. However, they often have limited access to legal protection.

"Very often people think only of women who are married or who have children," Ms Martin continued.

"There is a lot of stereotypes about who victims are and a lot of the time young women aren't seen as being in a situation were they are with a guy who is going to pose problems."

Under current law there is little protection for women who are in 'dating relationships'.

Women's Aid believes that the existing safety order legislation should be extended to women in these relationships.

As Valentine's weekend approaches the group has relaunched its 2in2u initiative to encourage young women to recognise the warning signs of violence. It offers tools to help women differentiate between safe and sinister behaviour.

hnews@herald.ie

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