The Canadian Race Relations Foundation and YWCA Canada launch an awareness campaign highlighting the stories of young Canadian women who have survived misogyny and racism online
TORONTO, March 22, 2021—The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and YWCA Canada have launched a social media campaign called #BlockHate to address concerns around the rise of hate speech and racism online. The campaign launch coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. The campaign features women of colour targeted by online hate through social media who share their experiences.
Online hate speech and racism are often a precursor to the unfortunate trend of violent, in-person attacks against marginalized communities. This is evidenced in the hate speech spread online about Asians over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by an over 700 percent rise in violent attacks Asian-Canadians in cities like Vancouver. This was also true when 60 percent of Canadians indicated in an Ipsos Reid poll that Islamophobia was increasing post-9/11.
Noor Fadel, featured in the #BlockHate campaign, was 18-years-old when she was attacked on a train four years ago by a stranger for wearing a hijab. When she posted her story to social media, it went viral. She received many supportive messages and received hundreds of sexist, racist, and Islamophobic comments concerning her experience.
"During the pandemic, we’ve seen all forms of gender-based violence increase including online hate. Young, racialized women, are particularly vulnerable," said YWCA Canada CEO Maya Roy. "Not investing in measures to prevent, address and report hate online hurts us all. We can’t have any COVID-19 recovery in a climate of hate, violence, and fear.”
Young people are some of the most deeply affected by online hate speech. A recent poll conducted by CRRF and Abacus Data indicated that young people between 18 and 29 are the most avid social media users. Yet, they are more likely than any other age demographic in the country to have directly received or witnessed offensive name-calling, racist, sexist, homophobic comments, incitements of violence, sexual harassment, and physical threats online. Racialized Canadians are three times more likely to experience online hate speech.
Ninety-three percent of Canadians believe that online hate speech and racism are a problem. Eighty percent want online hate speech and racism treated with the same seriousness as in-person hate crimes by lawmakers. Despite the overwhelming support for regulation, law enforcement around racism and hate speech perpetrated online has been uneven. Nonetheless, well-established laws penalizing those who enact in-person hate crimes are more regularly enforced.
"What we are hoping to accomplish is to encourage regulation that will minimize the volume and frequency at which online hate speech and racism is spread," said CRRF Executive Director Mohammed Hashim. "This campaign is an effort to ensure that the hateful fringe voices are never given the greatest platforms."
The #BlockHate campaign can be found on www.blockhate.ca and also appears on the Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts of CRRF and YWCA Canada.
About Canadian Race Relations Foundation
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created in 1996 to reaffirm the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada. The Foundation's mandate is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing, and application of knowledge and expertise to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.
About YWCA Canada
YWCA Canada is a leading voice for women, girls, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people. For 150 years, it has been at the forefront of a movement: to fight gender-based violence, build affordable housing and advocate for workplace equity. YWCA Canada works to advance gender equity by responding to urgent needs in communities through national advocacy and grassroots initiatives. Local YWCAs invest over $258 million annually to support over 330,000 individuals across the nation. Today, they engage young leaders, diverse communities, and corporate partners to achieve our vision of a safe and equitable Canada for all.
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