Stand with girls against
online harassment and abuse.

Every day, everywhere, girls are physically threatened, racially abused, sexually harassed, and body shamed online. With COVID-19 driving lockdowns around the globe, girls are spending more time online. This has increased their risk of online abuse and harassment.

We along with girls around the world, have been calling on social media companies to improve their ways of reporting abuse and harassment in a way that actually works for girls. So far we have had more than 60,000 signatures supporting girls’ calls for action from social media companies. And they are starting to listen! Instagram agreed to team up with young activists from around the world to address online harassment. But there is still more to do.

Online violence is serious. It silences girls’ voices – and it causes real and lasting harm. It robs girls of their self-esteem and causes mental and emotional stress. Nearly a quarter of girls we surveyed reported it can leave them feeling physically unsafe, with others having problems at school, with friends or family and in finding or keeping a job.

Girls are opting out of expressing themselves and their opinions for fear of retribution, and sometimes removing themselves from these platforms altogether. Once again, as we’ve seen with street harassment, perpetrators are using their perceived power to silence girls and to force them out of spaces where they have just as much right to be as anyone else.

As the charity for girls’ equality, Plan International Australia is declaring that enough is enough.

Having a guy just send me a naked photo of himself… is really freaky.…They just go into your inbox: ‘Hey babe,’ and then I open this message and I freak out, ’What the hell is happening?’… They are sending you things without your consent, which is just disrespectful.
  • Young woman, 23, Malawi
For my friends who experienced bodyshaming, they became more determined to change who they are just to please others and conform to societal standards.
  • Girl, 17, Philippines
It breaks my heart because, obviously the stories that we’re telling are a very difficult experience for the woman. And you can read how much suffering she went through with all this. But anyway, these people come, and say things like, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself.’ How can they comment without seeing the suffering?
  • Young woman, 22, Chile
Online Safety

The Research

For this report we spoke to 14,000 girls across 22 countries around the world about their experiences online. This is the largest ever survey of its type. We learnt that more than half have been harassed and abused on social media.

In all 22 countries, girls had been exposed to explicit messages, pornographic photos, cyberstalking and other distressing forms of abuse.

Most commonly girls were targeted with abusive and insulting language, reported by more than half (59%) of girls, followed by deliberate embarrassment (41%), body shaming and threats of sexual violence (both 39%).

The social media platforms designed to connect us as a global community, are drastically failing girls and young women. Inadequate reporting mechanisms are allowing harmful abuse slip through the cracks.
Girls in all of their diversity, need to know that when they’re abused and threatened online, they can report it. That they’ll be listened to. That action will be taken, and that perpetrators will be held accountable.

Join the fight for girls rights

About Plan International Australia

Put simply, we’re the charity for girls’ equality.

We tackle the root causes of poverty, support communities through crisis, campaign for gender equality, and help governments do what’s right for children and particularly for girls.

We are here to ignite the creativity, talent and ideas of girls in all their diversities. We are informed by evidence, and always learning.

A better now for her. A better future for everyone.

This is what we stand for. Will you join us?