Call to ban 'derogatory' Facebook groups

AMY GLASS
Last updated 05:00 14/10/2011

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A Christchurch women's advocacy group has begun a petition against "inflammatory and derogatory" pro-rape Facebook groups.

The online petition, which was created by the National Council of Women of New Zealand, is calling for the social networking website to remove pages that promote rape or violence against women.

The Facebook pages include groups called "You know she's playing hard to get when you're chasing her down an alleyway" and "Punching pregnant women in the stomach".

The pages have received criticism internationally, and victim support groups have called for their removal.

NCWNZ Christchurch branch president Judith Sutherland said Christchurch women "had been through enough".

"We have seen the escalation of violence against women. We don't need these inflammatory and derogatory pages. It just adds to the tragic circumstances we are all experiencing at the moment." Earthquake stress had increased the level of domestic violence against women in Christchurch, and such websites "add to our woes", she said.

The council believed the pages violated Facebook's terms of service, which prohibited users from posting material that was hateful, threatening, incited violence or contained gratuitous violence, she said.

Women's Refuge spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin said the pages were "pathetic".

"It seems some individuals think they are being clever and irreverent when they set up sites that rely on sexist, racist or violent language to attract support. It's not clever. It's pathetic and it incites hatred, violence and prejudices that we could do without," she said.

"The problem is that by trying to make acts like rape or domestic violence somehow funny we desensitise people to the fact that these acts are actually very serious crimes and violations of human rights."

Facebook did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the petition yesterday.

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- The Press

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