Explained: What is Your Body Right, And Why Do You Need Body Right

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The body right is a new ‘copyright’ mark to assert and demand protection from digital violence. The core of this online and social media campaign from UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is the body right symbol.

New Delhi (ABC Live India): The Internet can be a hateful, hostile place, particularly for women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities who are more likely to have their images abused online.

Such sexualized abuse includes non-consensual sharing of intimate images (also known as “revenge porn,” an objectionable term that suggests a survivor deserved retribution or consented to making pornography), deepfakes (manipulation of imagery using machine learning/AI) and upskirting (taking non-consensual images up a skirt or dress.)

All are forms of digital violence, which is prevalent, repetitive, perpetual and pervasive. The consequences of these violations of a person's privacy, dignity, autonomy and rights are devastating.

Online misogyny and violence is a widespread human rights violation, yet tech companies and policymakers place greater value and protections on copyright than on the rights of human beings online.

Those who infringe copyright face legal penalties and swift removal of content by digital platforms, while survivors of online violence face barriers and have few legal rights.

This is why UNFPA is launching body Right, a brand new “copyright” for the human body. It demands that images of our bodies are given the same respect and protection online as copyright gives to music, film and even corporate logos.

What is body right?

The body right is a new ‘copyright’ mark to assert and demand protection from digital violence. The core of this online and social media campaign from UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, is the body right symbol.

This symbol can be added to any image of a human body directly on social media or any other digital content -sharing platform. The aim is to drive tech companies and policymakers to take the violation of human rights and protecting bodily autonomy online as seriously as they take copyright infringement.

Body right is a social movement that asks us all to take gender-based online violence seriously. We all need to understand our role in it and work together to drive real change and online protections for every girl, woman and young person, everywhere.

Why do we need body right?

Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and bodily autonomy. It is a pressing global public health issue. Gender-based violence is rooted in misogyny, and it is increasing online. Digital violence is typically highly sexualized and takes many forms including cyber harassment, hate speech, doxxing and non-consensual use of images and video, such as deep fakes.

Images are being used and abused online. People are targeted with slurs, including references to rape, based on gender, race, LGBTQ+ status, body type and other identifiers and their images are subjected to demeaning non-consensual sexual acts. Globally, 85% of women reported witnessing digital violence, and nearly 40% have experienced it personally*.

Women, girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities are the most likely to have their images abused online. It causes long-term psychological, emotional and physical distress. Yet, digital violence is not taken seriously by tech companies and policymakers who seem to be looking the other way.

What is bodily autonomy?

Bodily autonomy is the right of every individual to choose what they do with their bodies and to live free of fear and violence. This principle should apply both online and offline.

Why doesn’t the law protect me against online abuse and digital violence?

Laws in this area have not kept pace with the technology and they need to catch up fast. In 64 of 86 countries, law enforcement agencies and courts appear to be failing to take appropriate corrective actions to address online violence against women.

Even where countries do have legal remedies, they are often not consistent across states, districts or provinces. This must change. Seeking justice should not have to be another traumatizing experience. We must push for a world where everyone is protected from online abuse by consistent and effective legal measures.

What can policymakers do to help combat digital violence?

Governments need to step up. Laws in this area have not kept pace with the technology and they need to catch up fast. Even where countries do have legal remedies, they are often not consistent across states, districts or provinces.

The non-consensual use, misuse or abuse of people’s images should be criminalized and tech companies and social media platforms should be legally obligated to put effective moderation and reporting systems in place.

What can tech companies do to help combat digital violence?

Tech companies need to step up. Digital and social media platforms, online forums and content sites should provide women and girls the same protection as copyrighted materials.

UNFPA joined the World Wide Web Foundation in its call to Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter to prioritize the safety of women online, holding them to the pledges made during the 2021 Generation Equality Forum in Paris. Women need to have more control over who can interact with them online and who can access their content, along with having better ways to report abuse.

Tech companies need to create innovative solutions to prevent digital violence and improve online safety. Tech companies must be more responsive to victims seeking help in taking down posts that violate their rights and privacy and address perpetrators appropriately.

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