Does Technology Have What It Takes To Finally Give Women A Voice?
In an ideal world, women wouldn’t need to fight for a voice in 2018, especially when it comes to what happens to their bodies. After all, people are finally talking about the gender pay gap, and more women than ever are taking leadership roles in the workplace. Yet, despite these positive steps, only a small percentage of rape cases go to court. And, even the cases which are taken seriously often result in the woman being put on trial as much as her abuser. A fact which was highlighted fantastically in season two of 13 Reasons Why, when the judge made the outlandish claim that ‘Mistakes were made on both sides.’
Statements like these are enough to make the majority of us gasp in horror. Yet, this scene rings frighteningly true of many rape cases out there, especially against privileged men. There's still an unspoken yet prevalent belief that women somehow ‘ask’ for male attention. And, while we’re becoming more aware of issues of consent, this is still more of a problem than many of us can grasp.
You could even argue that sexual abuse issues have worsened with technology. And, there’s a fair reason for that belief. Women no longer have to deal with unwanted sexual attention when out and about. They also have to weather inappropriate comments online. 61% of women even report being sent unsolicited explicit photos. It’s easy to feel, then, that there’s no longer any escape from abuse. And, that can seem like a pretty bleak reality.
But, hope isn’t lost. In fact it would be fair to say that technology could also be the silver lining we’ve been waiting for. You only have to look at the #metoo campaign for proof of that. While technology has, in some ways, invited abuse into new aspects of our lives, it’s also given us voices. And, finally, it seems as though they’re being heard.
And, social media isn’t the only platform set to provide social justice for women. The use of computer forensics services in mobile phones and computers has also made big waves recently. With mobile messaging now taken into account in some rape trials, more women feel confident to come forward and report abusers. And, this is a two-sided coin. Evidence like this has also worked towards reducing convictions of wrongly accused men. In fact, earlier this year, the UK justice system reviewed vast amounts of rape cases on this basis.
On the outset, this could look like a bad thing. It seems like another case of courts doubting women. But, by clearing the path of wrongful accusation, it’s possible women who do come forward won’t have to face the same level of scrutiny. Steps like these could undoubtedly see prosecution rates rise as only justified claims are taken seriously.
So, rather than rolling over and accepting online abuse, we’re living in an age of change for women. Finally, the voiceless have been given a voice. And, you can bet we’re going to use it.