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Recorder letters: Abuse against women, diabetes in winter and save a pet

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 December 2017

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo is warning against the dangers of online abuse.

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo is warning against the dangers of online abuse.

Seyi Akiwowo

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Help end online abuse of women

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo, Forest Gate North Ward and founder of Glitch!U, writes:

From November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to mobilise action to end all forms of violence against women and girls around the world.

The UK should lead the way in officially recognising online violence and harassment as a form of gender based violence.

Online abuse includes a diversity of tactics and malicious behaviours ranging from sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person to impersonation, doxing, stalking and electronic surveillance to the nonconsensual use of photography and violent threats. The purpose of harassment differs with every incidence, but usually includes wanting to embarrass, humiliate, scare, threaten, silence, extort or, in some instances or encourages mob attacks.

Recently Amnesty International commissioned an IPSOS MORI poll which looked at the experiences of women online found 22 per cent of women in the UK experienced online abuse one or more times. This even worse for women from ethnic minority backgrounds. Online abuse can have a serious psychological impact with users reporting stress, anxiety or panic attacks as well as lower self-esteem as a result of the abuse.

Research like this is important as it provides evidence of the online violence millions of women are facing.

It is therefore important for policy-makers and social media companies to support, invest and respond to the research.

That’s why I founded Glitch!UK, an organisation aiming to end online hate speech and online violence against women and girls (OVAWG). Glitch!UK believes that online violence of all forms is a vehicle for movements to divide society and spread fear. Glitch essentially means a temporary malfunction with an equipment. Glitch!UK believes online abuse on social media platforms is a glitch that can be fixed.

We need to immediately acknowledge that that language matters, words are powerful and hateful words can be used to mobilise against a group of people. Therefore, we must challenge the rhetoric of “oh it’s just words, ignore them” to “No words do have an impact and negative online activity can and does extend into real world.”

Social media companies must be held more accountable and be transparent with how they self-regulate and enforce their own rules.

We must call for educational training workshops for young people so they can understand what online abuse means and how they can act as good online citizens.

This should also be extended for those who work with young people so they can spot the signs – rather than enforcing a phone ban policy in schools.

We must train online tech companies and those developing apps and social media platforms. They must learn from the mistakes and glitches of current social media.

There are current attempts to fix the online abuse glitch but new platforms should not have them in the first place.

Finally, but by no means least, we must demand that social media companies be more accountable and be more transparent with how they enforce their own rules.

Domestic violence spending squeeze

Jo Phillips, Manor Park, full address supplied, writes:

Having read about the domestic violence budget being cut by half I was quite surprised to see the same council has glossy leaflets in all Community Centres inviting us to join them for ‘UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women & Girls’ being held at East Ham Town Hall.

It surely flies in the face of the budget cuts?

Winter advice for diabetics

Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK, writes:

We want everyone with diabetes, including pregnant women, to have a flu vaccination this winter, as illnesses like the flu can be more severe for people with diabetes.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of people with diabetes did not have a flu vaccination in England last winter, despite it being free to everyone with the condition.

Flu can be serious for people with diabetes and can make it harder to manage the condition, as it can destabilise blood sugar levels. This can, in turn, increase the risk of developing serious complications, such as amputations, stroke and kidney disease.

If you have any concerns about having the vaccination then please speak to your GP or healthcare professional.

The flu jab is one of 15 healthcare essentials that every person with diabetes is entitled to through the NHS every year. These include having your blood pressure measured, having your eyes screened for signs of retinopathy (disease) and having your feet and legs checked.

Diabetes UK has put together a guide to help people with diabetes avoid the flu, as part of Public Health England’s Stay Well This Winter Campaign. For more information about diabetes and flu, please visit our website diabetes.org.uk/seasonal-flu

Save a pet’s life this Christmas

Nicola Martin, PDSA, senior vet, writes:

This Christmas, please spare a thought for the thousands of much-loved pets requiring life-saving vet treatment. While most pets will enjoy spending extra time at home with their families, not all are so lucky. Every December, pet wellbeing charity PDSA cares for 50,000 pets in need. Without our dedicated vet teams, many of these pets would have nowhere else to go. For 100 years, we’ve been helping provide critical care and emergency surgery for pets that urgently need us when tragedy strikes. Demand for our vital services never stops.

Every pet is a star in our eyes, and we want to give them all a fighting chance. When PDSA saves a pet, another family stays together. But we can only continue helping with your support.

Animal lovers can help our #SaveAStar campaign at or by texting STAR to 70020 to give a one-off donation of £5 (you’ll also be charged one standard rate message*).

From all of the pets you’ll help to save this Christmas, thank you.

*Over 16s only. Must have bill payer’s permission. Full terms at pdsa.org.uk/star

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