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Gender, Technology and Law Session: Sara De Vido on International and European Legal Perspectives on Online Gender-Based Violence Against Women

Location: Online
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The Gender, Technology & Law initiative is happy to announce a new series of online sessions to take place in October, November and December 2020. 

The second online session of the new cycle will be animated by Sara de Vido and will take place on 24 November 2020, 12:00-13:30 Brussels time. The introduction will be given by FRC Researcher Carlotta Rigotti.


Session description:

International and European Legal Perspectives on Online Gender-Based Violence Against Women: How internet can be both a source of violence and a response to it

The purpose of the presentation is to discuss the definition of online gender-based violence against women starting from international hard law and soft law instruments and moving to the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention and EU acts. The seminar will explain that this definition should be considered as a framework concept capable of encompassing different forms of violence that might or not amount to a crime. It will specifically emphasise how internet can be a source of violence through behaviours that have developed on the internet (including sexist hate speech) and will provide the legal framework at CoE and EU level and possible developments.

It will also consider how internet can be both a source and a response to violence. With regard to reproductive rights, in a recent book I have argued that States’ laws and policies can be a source of violence. The seminar will deal with this aspect by providing the example of the block of abortion rights websites by some governments. These actions do not only infringe freedom of expression, but also, and most significantly, the women’s right to reproductive health, causing what I have defined as ‘violence against women’s health’. Internet can however be a response to violence, through telemedicine and the possibility, which some countries have already experienced, to move ‘access to abortion’ online. This sounds particularly timely in times of pandemic, where women’s rights have been further jeopardised as a response to the emergency.

Speaker's bio:

Sara De Vido is Associate professor of International Law at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy, where she teaches international law, human rights law and European Union law. She is one of the professors at the Venice International University. She was the vice-director of the Centre for Human Rights (Cestudir) at Ca’ Foscari from 2015 to 2020. She is affiliate to the Manchester International Law Centre, where she co-founded the Women in international law network (Wilnet). Sara has spent several research periods abroad, including at the University of Manchester, UK, at the Hitotsubashi and Waseda universities in Tokyo, Japan. She teaches in Italian, English and French both in Italy and abroad. Her main interests of research are: women’s rights under international law and international environmental human rights law. She has extensively written on women’s rights in international and European law. Her most recent book is Violence against women’s health in international law (Melland Schill Series, Manchester University Press, UK), available open access here. She has also written several posts in times of pandemic on the ‘gender crisis’, stressing how women’s rights have been further jeopardised by the measures taken in response to the emergency (see for example here.)

Gender, Technology & Law Sessions:

This session is part of the Gender, Technologies & Law Sessions, a collaborative initiative of the Law, Science, Technology and Society Research Group (LSTS) and the Fundamental Rights Centre (FRC) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The initiative aims at investigating the intersections between gender, technology and law through an interdisciplinary approach. Outcomes of these investigations but also more explorative debates and open questions are presented in a series of seminars, both by internal and external speakers. For more information on the series, see here.

Other sessions:

  • Tuesday 27 October 2020, 12:00-13.30 Brussels time

    • Petra Molnar on immigration, Iris-Scanning, and iBorderCTRL: The Human Rights Impacts of Migration Control Technologies

  • Tuesday 15 December 2020, 12:00-13:30 Brussels time
    • Gianclaudio Malgieri on vulnerability and gender in data protection


The sessions are free to attend but registration is required. To register, please follow this link. Should you face any difficulties with your registration, please send an e-mail to Olga Gkotsopoulou (LSTS) or Carlotta Rigotti (FRC).

You can find the poster of the sessions here: pdf fileGTL Sessions October - December 2020 (328 KB) .

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