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    Tauhere UC Connect: Tolerate Online Abuse or Resign: How the Law Fails Women MPs

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    Event description

    Certain groups of women are more likely to experience intense forms of online violence than others – these include Māori, Pacific, migrant, disabled, and queer women. The 2023 Aotearoa New Zealand election campaign illustrated a disturbing trend of online and offline violence against women politicians. Incidents included physical attacks, home vandalisation, and verbal abuse, echoing the persistent issue of online sexist harassment experienced by women in politics.

    At the start of 2024, Golriz Ghahraman’s exit from politics showed the toll of online bullying on female MPs. At the time, the Prime Minister Christopher Luxon agreed abuse aimed at women in Parliament was ‘a lot worse’. However he didn’t indicate any new initiatives beyond what had been recommended in the Francis report into the culture of Parliament.

    Despite commitments to create a safe political environment, political parties remain largely silent on concrete plans to combat online violence. The legal framework, particularly the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, exhibits weaknesses in addressing online violence against women, discouraging reporting, and allowing perpetrators to act with impunity.

    Women MPs are faced with two choices: put up with the torrent of online abuse or resign.

    In her upcoming University of Canterbury (UC) Tauhere Connect public lecture, Tolerate Online Abuse or Resign: How the Law Fails Women MPs[MA1] , on Wednesday night, 24 April, UC Senior Lecturer and international human rights law expert Dr Cassandra Mudgway will examine the issue of online violence against women in politics, both here and overseas.


    The risk of women leaving politics reduces diversity and undermines our democracy,  underscoring the need for a comprehensive plan involving public education, law enforcement, and parliamentary measures to combat this growing threat to women's human rights.

    In the free public event, Dr Mudgway will outline and question the current legal framework intended to address online violence against women. Offering possible solutions, she will set out the ways in which laws and other measures could be re-drafted to better protect women’s human rights online.

    About the speaker

    University of Canterbury Faculty of Law Senior Lecturer Dr Cassandra Mudgway is an expert in international human rights law with an interest in women’s rights, feminist legal theory, and gender-based violence. She teaches across the UC Law degree in the areas of criminal law, evidence, and gender and the law.

    • UC Tauhere Connect public talk: Tolerate Online Abuse or Resign: How the Law Fails Women MPs Presented by Senior Lecturer Dr Cassandra Mudgway, UC Law, 7pm – 8pm, Wednesday 24 April 2024, in the Central lecture theatre (C Block), Ilam campus, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: www.canterbury.ac.nz/ucconnect.
      Please note: This event will not be livestreamed, however it is free to register to attend in person or can be viewed later on YouTube. Videos of Tauhere Connect talks are available a week after the live event. Check them out here.


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