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Vantage Blog

March 21, 2023

"I finally knew I was in the right place" – notes from the first-ever Global Summit on Image-Based Sexual Abuse

Image-based sexual abuse and other mechanisms of online harm have increased at an alarming rate in recent years, especially as reliance on digital tools such as social media and other online platforms has become a new norm. Many of us – primarily women and girls, but not solely – must face the fact that threats of sexual and gender-based violence now pervade our online lives.

But we have an opportunity to build a greater sense of urgency among policymakers, tech companies, and the public about this issue.

Last month, Panorama Global convened the first-ever Global Summit on Image-Based Sexual Abuse to continue elevating, accelerating, and unifying the global response to this rapidly growing issue. Held in partnership with six leading organizations and agencies from Australia, France, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K, and the U.S, the summit gathered 60 experts from 19 countries, each with their own unique perspective and experience.

As our landscape analysis made clear, the global, interconnected nature of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) requires an equally coordinated, global response. With lived experience experts, advocates, mental health professionals, lawyers, researchers, technology experts, and government representatives in attendance, the summit continued our work towards this ambitious goal of a unified response. Core topics of discussion focused on addressing IBSA from a systems change perspective, including:

  • trends in policy and law: criminal and civil remedies
  • increasing access to hotlines and helplines
  • image removal: challenges and intersections with survivor healing
  • ethical media and research engagement with survivors
  • IBSA around the world  
“In my year as the Director of the IBSA Initiative I have met and learned from some of the brightest minds in the world, including lived experience experts, who are addressing all facets of image-based sexual abuse. Looking out across the room at our Global Summit, I could feel the momentum that followed the release of our global landscape report. The time is now for a global unified response against this form of technology-facilitated sexual violence.” - Andrea Powell, Director, the Image-Based Sexual Abuse Initiative

These discussions confirmed assumptions about the problem and the work: it is currently too siloed, fragmented, under-funded, and deeply misunderstood by the general public. Attendees used the opportunity to build trust, engage in solution-oriented discussions around direct services, hotlines, image removal, and law and policy, and to explore innovative new strategies and ideas to address IBSA. The level of connection and camaraderie that attendees described was perhaps the strongest measure of the summit’s value.

“Words cannot explain how magical this summit was. I lost track of the tears I cried because of the emotions of the past few days. After years of anxiety and self-doubting, I finally knew I was in the right place.” - Silvia Semenzin, Advocacy Director, Cyber Crime Initiative (Italy) 

The isolation and frustration of combatting IBSA faded as this group of passionate innovators decided together that it’s time to join forces and collectively bring their talents and expertise to this global fight. The energy and enthusiasm during the summit, and in the time since, has been invigorating. It is an encouraging sign that a major shift is coming—and the emerging IBSA coalition is ready to take the field's work to the next level.  

Since the Summit, Panorama and our partners are working together to formalize a new global coalition alongside a global action plan, which we will announce in the coming months. We will undoubtedly look back at the Global Summit on Image-based Sexual Abuse as a catalyst towards a motivated, diverse, and survivor-centered coalition that will ultimately shape a world in which all of us can be safely online.  

“We understood that what is at stake is allowing people, who have seen their content violated, to be people. Today victims are denied their humanity, and they are left alone. We must work hard to improve the reporting and removal of the images, and also to enable survivors to speak and stand up so gradually the mindset changes...This is just the beginning." - Jean-Christophe le Toquin, President, Point de Contact (France) 

As awareness of the reach and harms of image-based sexual abuse continues to gain momentum, and as the emerging global coalition grows, we look forward to strengthening the field through radical collaboration, resource-sharing, and events.

We are deeply grateful to our Global Summit co-hosts who helped make this catalytic event possible: the eSafety Commission (Australia), the Film and Publication Board (South Africa), the Korean Communication Standards Commission (KSCS), Point de Contact (France), Sanar Institute (USA), and the Revenge Porn Helpline (UK).

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The Image-Based Sexual Abuse initiative is powered by Panorama Global—a social impact nonprofit that empowers changemakers through radical collaboration—with seed funding from Bumble, the Greenbaum Foundation, the Jensen Project, the Pershing Square Foundation, and the Stardust Foundation.

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