New Project Aims To Protect Female Politicians Against Hate Speech

More than four-fifths of the female MPs surveyed in European countries have experienced violent treatment. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, June 27 (CTK) – #StopHate is a project focusing on the problem of hateful attacks against women who are active in politics and public life, aiming to gather information from female academics, politicians, activists and journalists about their experience and contribute to their protection, the organisers said yesterday.

A handbook for parliament with proposals for action will also be produced.

The results of the project so far were presented at a press conference yesterday by Veronika Sprincova, the head of the 50% Forum organisation striving for balanced representation of men and women in politics and decision-making.

According to research by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, more than four-fifths of the female MPs surveyed in European countries have experienced violent treatment.

“We are talking about a systemic problem,” Sprincova said. “Women often find fault with themselves – they believe that they said something wrong, that they look bad. But it doesn’t matter what they do or say. There is always a heckle… We see that the attack is targeted, personal, on appearance, on intelligence, on whether they have children. It does not work the same way with men. We do not see anyone laughing at men for being men.” 

Many female politicians and other women in the Czech Republic face hateful and sexist attacks on social networks and elsewhere. Olga Richterova (Pirates), deputy speaker of the lower house, brought a case of disinformation about her to court. The Chamber of Deputies Speaker, Marketa Pekarova Adamova (TOP 09), received insults and threats. According to Sprincova, the problem faced by publicly active women on social networks and elsewhere is hidden. Unaware of the problem, other women and men may not notice the outbursts and how serious they can be.

The #StopHate project began last November and will end this October. It focuses on women who are publicly active such as politicians, academics, activists and journalists. It includes workshops on coping with manipulation and preventing harassment and violence. A handbook for parliament with proposed measures is being prepared and an awareness-raising campaign will be organised. The project is supported by Norway Grants.

A directive on combating violence is currently under discussion in the European Union. The European Commission presented the proposal on 8 March last year. The regulation contains definitions of violence, and also focuses on punishment and prevention. It could also regulate attacks in cyberspace. “Vulgarity, swearing, threats of rape and physical destruction affect far more women than men. Women subsequently leave social networks. We have a democratic deficit,” said Monika Ladmanova, head of the European Commission mission in Prague.

According to Sprincova, parliaments in some countries are already taking steps to eliminate these undesirable phenomena. They are amending their rules of procedure and codes of ethics, to make hateful and sexist speech unacceptable. There are also sanctions for non-compliance.

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