We are pleased to announce that TSMP Law Corporation joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio has joined the Ministry of Communications and Information’s (MCI) Singapore Together Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls (the AfA).
With Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and Parliamentary Secretary Rahayu Mahzam as Co-Chairs, the AfA brings together members from across the 3P sectors, with a focus on developing support mechanisms and infrastructure for victims of online harms.
Following a series of conversations since February 2021 that engaged more than 300 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, the MCI launched the AfA on 21 July 2021. These include technology facilitated gender-based harassment issues such as the non-consensual one-to-many publication of images and personal details online; unwelcomed one-to-one interactions online, ranging from sexual harassment to online grooming; and the existence of online platforms that encourage vice and harm.
The AfA will focus on closing the digital safety gap, and on taking action to enhance the freedom and safety of our women and girls in a digital future. A key recommendation that came up from the earlier conversations was the need to develop support mechanisms and infrastructure for victims of online harms. This would entail: (i) providing help to victims of online harms by providing tools, knowledge and assistance; (ii) creating a safer space online for all by providing support, advice, education, and (iii) helping shape norms around safe and responsible use of digital devices and online spaces.
The AfA is co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development Ms Sim Ann, and Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Ms Rahayu Mahzam. Taking a whole-of-nation partnership approach, the AfA will start with 48 members across the people, public and private (3P) sectors, to address the issue of online harms in the following five key workstreams as suggested by participants of the earlier conversations:
i. Public Education Cluster – To look into developing educational resources, workshops
and campaigns for various target audiences.
ii. Research Cluster – To look into scoping and conducting studies, including
understanding emerging trends and develop localised scales to measure digital safety.
iii. Victim Support Cluster – To look into counselling, psychological and legal support.
iv. Youth Engagement Cluster – To look into campus advocacy initiatives and peer support
v. Volunteerism Cluster – To identify areas where volunteers from the wider community
could play a role.
The AfA will also look into partnerships with various stakeholders to strengthen and drive the cause. For a start, MCI is supporting the private-public collaboration with DBS and Singapore Judiciary on a community hackathon to generate innovative solutions for safer and kinder online spaces3.
On the launch of the AfA, Ms Sim Ann said, “Over the past six months, the community, industry and government have had meaningful conversations on how we can close the digital safety gap for women and girls in Singapore. I am heartened not only by the enthusiasm of stakeholders but also by the quality of ideas they have put forth. We are now ready to embark on this AfA to take concerted action together, test out initiatives and develop impactful programmes. My hope is for this AfA to be the start of a movement that will grow from strength to strength in advancing the cause of women and promoting a safer internet for all.”
Emphasising the importance of partnerships, Ms Rahayu Mahzam said, “With the launch of this AfA, we hope to generate nation-wide interest and action towards the cause. More than just conversations, we need innovative and workable solutions, as well as boots on the ground to bring our conversations to fruition. The Hackathon is a good start and we are looking forward to more ground-up conversations and initiatives in the future.”
Interested members of the public who are passionate about co-creating initiatives to tackle online harms, and contributing to the AfA can indicate their interest at go.gov.sg/mciafa.