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Cyber Violence against Women and Girls in the Western Balkans: Selected Case Studies and a Cybersecurity Governance Approach

31 March, 2021



"Cyber VAWG is rooted in, and must be addressed, as both an issue of cybersecurity and of gender equality. The way forward lies in combining both arenas to tackle these and other gendered cybersecurity concerns."

Cyber violence is a cybersecurity threat which has grown exponentially in the past decade.
This includes, but is not limited to: online (sexual) harassment; defamation; cyber stalking; surveillance and tracking; hacking; impersonation; identity theft; image-based abuse; malicious distribution (including threats thereof); cyber bullying; and many other forms of abuse.

Any person can become a victim of cyber violence. However, cyber violence against women and girls (cyber VAWG) occurs much more frequently, and perpetuates an enabling environment in which further discrimination, harassment and gender-based violence against women and girls in the offline world is normalised in society. 

In this publication we focus on the Western Balkan region and seek to portray this important issue through vivid case studies from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. While each case study is unique, the stories of the women portrayed in them are symbolic of the struggles many women around the world face on a daily basis. 

The introduction presents the issue of cyber violence from the perspective of cybersecurity governance, thereby giving weight to the principles of good SSG in their application to cybersecurity. 

Each of the three country-case studies portrays the story of the subject and the applicable national legal and governance frameworks, following which an analysis of best practices and gaps in the applicable legal and governance frameworks is provided and specific recommendations applicable to each of the three country scenarios are given. 

The conclusion summarises key findings and trends from the three case studies, presents concrete steps in addressing cyber VAWG through principles of good governance and gender mainstreaming, and ends on a brief discussion of areas of gender and cybersecurity requiring further research.


Franziska Klopfer