Joyce, Speier, Katko and Kuster Hold Bipartisan Roundtable to Address Online Sexual Violence and Cyber Harassment

Apr 04, 2019

WASHINGTON – This week, the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, of which Congressman Joyce is a co-chair, held its first roundtable of the 116th Congress to address the increasingly pervasive threat posed by online sexual violence and cyber harassment. Dave, along with the other Task Force co-chairs, Jackie Speier (CA-14), John Katko (NY-24), and Ann Kuster (NH-2), hosted panelists at the roundtable who have been immersed in efforts to combat cyber sexual violence and support survivors, including:

  • Jennifer Hanley, the Safety Policy Manager at Facebook,
  • Mary Anne Franks, President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Professor of Law at the University of Miami and
  • Annmarie Chiarini, Survivor, and the Victims Services Director at the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

According to the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of adult internet users have been affected by cyberstalking, persistent harassing emails or other unwanted online contact. Additionally, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative reports that one out of every eight social media users have been targets of non-consensual pornography. 

“The internet and social media are powerful tools that are often used in a positive way, but they can also be used to target, threaten, defame and harm individuals through sexual harassment and violence,” said Dave. “As a former prosecutor of 25 years, I have seen the impact these kinds of crimes have on victims and know how important it is to not only raise awareness about cyber sexual violence, but also explore ways to eradicate it. I thank the panelists for their testimonytoday and for the important work they’re doing to combat these crimes every day, and I commend my colleagues on the Task Force for their commitment to working on bipartisan, commonsense solutions to address these issues. I look forward to continuing the Task Force’s work in the 116th Congress to combat sexual violence in all its forms.”

“Online sexual harassment can be devastating to those victimized and exacerbate the impact of previous sexual assault,” said President & CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Sondra Miller. “I applaud the Task Force for digging deeper into this issue and learning more about how online abuse hurts Americans.”

Dave, who was a founding member of the Task Force, has helped spearhead efforts on the federal level to crack down on those who commit acts of sexual violence and to support the victims of these horrible crimes. Earlier this Congress, Dave introduced a bipartisan resolution to battle the backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Introduced in January, H.Res. 81 calls on states to conduct an audit to inventory all untested sexual assault kits, submit previously untested sexual assault kits to a laboratory and require DNA testing within a specific timeframe, and to work with sexual assault survivor advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners, law enforcement and others to ensure the response to sexual violence is victim-centered and collaborative, among other measures.



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