In January 2019, abortion services were finally opened to women in Ireland. This followed a historic referendum in May 2018 that marked a huge victory for women’s rights. The amazing result overturned the constitutional ban on abortion, allowing it in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in exceptional circumstances. It was an outcome arising from years of dedicated work by activists, including Amnesty International. In 2015, we launched our She is not a criminal campaign. Our research, activism and advocacy helped convince the government to schedule the referendum and enact this new law. Our campaign also opened up space for women to share their experience of abortion, helping to undo the shame and stigma associated with it in the country. It encouraged a powerful conversation that helped catalyse the abortion debate in Ireland, ultimately ending in greater protection for women there.

© AI Australia

Twitter’s toxicity proved bad for business

With our #ToxicTwitter campaign, launched in March 2018, we showed how online abuse on the platform is having a serious impact on women’s right to freedom of expression, more so for women of colour, LBTI women and other women with intersecting identities. In the wake of our report, Twitter introduced improvements to its hateful conduct policy focused on banning “dehumanising speech”, and, for the first time, published data on how it enforces its own rules – a direct response to our calls. Twitter still didn’t release the disaggregated data, though, so we took matters into our own hands and launched Troll Patrol, an innovative crowdsourced research project to reveal the sheer scale and nature of online abuse faced by women. Working with technical experts and with over 6,500 digital activists from more than 150 countries, we created the largest crowdsourced dataset of online abuse against women. Our findings, released in December 2018, were shocking. A woman was abused on Twitter every 30 seconds. Black women were 84% more likely to receive abusive tweets than white women. Yet again, Twitter’s toxicity made headlines as our findings sent their share price tumbling within days, putting more pressure on Twitter to address our calls.

© Sergio Ortiz/Amnesty International