A response to the Dawn Butler story

This week a man was convicted for threatening Dawn Butler MP with a “bullet to the head” via an online platform. This kind of online abuse is of huge concern, particularly in light of the murders of Sir David Amess MP and Jo Cox MP in the last five years. It’s high time we act to stop it.

At Glitch we know that online abuse is often directed at individuals to embarrass, threaten, offend, humiliate, scare and/or silence them.

Research from the New York Times has shown that women MPs received four times the amount of online abuse as their male counterparts did, in the run up to the 2019 election. With a number stepping down due to the abuse.

In the context of online abuse faced by women in public life, Glitch highlights that Black women in particular, are much more likely to be targeted with abuse online than white women. Our The Ripple Effect report found Black and minoritised women and non-binary people were also more likely to report suffering increased online abuse during COVID-19, with 38% saying that the pandemic had led to increased online abuse.

We are grateful to Dawn Butler MP for speaking out and sharing her experience. It is of vital importance to raise the voices of such women and their experiences at every opportunity and to ensure any response to online abuse considers those individuals who are more likely to be targeted.

This story shows the importance of taking online abuse seriously from the start and understanding its significant and varied impacts on a person’s life.

It also shows the power of active bystanders such as Tan Dhesi MP who rightly flagged his concern around the threat of violence and supported his colleague to report it.

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Through research and reports, toolkits and guides, workshops and training, Glitch is here to help make digital citizens of everyone. We can all play our part. It starts with us, now.

Next free workshop: Hosting Conversations about online gender-based violence for Black Women: 19 January 2022, 7pm-8pm. Want to know more? Sign up here.

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