In an open letter to Facebook, anti-violence organizations called on the social media site to crack down on content that glorifies violence against girls and women. Despite a no tolerance policy for hate speech, Facebook allows misogynistic content that makes light of rape and violence against women it considers to be “humor.”
Under the hashtag #FBrape, a group has asked that companies pull ads from Facebook when they appear next to content that endorses violent acts against women - at least until the site addresses the issue.
“It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse,” the letter said. “Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.”
The letter asked that Facebook learn to recognize hate speech that promotes violence against women, to train moderators to remove gender-based hate speech and to school moderators on the “real-world pandemic of violence against women.”
It was signed by Laura Bates of The Everyday Sexism Project, activist Soraya Chemely, Jaclyn Friedman of Women, Action & the Media, and representatives from more than 60 other organizations.
Some of the Facebook pages in question include: “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs”; “Raping your Girlfriend”; “Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus”; and “Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich.”
“These pages and images are approved by your moderators, while you regularly remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women’s bodies,” the letter states. It also notes that the United Nations Say No to Violence Campaign estimates that 70 percent of females globally will experience rape or assault in their lifetime.
“In a world in which hundreds of thousands of women are assaulted daily and where intimate partner violence remains one of the leading causes of death for women around the world, it is not possible to sit on the fence,” the letter said.
Women in the U.S. experience about 4.8 million partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
A recent Pentagon report showed sexual assault in the U.S. military is up 35 percent from 2010, with an estimated 26,000 service members victimized and only 1,714 cases resolved.