News | Press Release

19 April 2023

Refuge installs ‘danger zone’ outside Parliament, highlights danger to women and girls online  

Refuge installs ‘danger zone’ outside Parliament, highlights danger to women and girls online  

  • Refuge installed a ‘danger zone’ with giant mobile phone to highlight the lack of protections for women and girls online.
  • Georgia Harrison and Sharon Gaffka shared their personal experience of the impact of online abuse.
  • The installation coincides with the return of the Online Safety Bill to the House of Lords today (19th April) for committee stage.
  • Photos available upon request (credit: Stacey Osbourne)

Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of domestic abuse support services, has today marked the start of committee stage of the Online Safety Bill in the House of Lords with an installation highlighting the epidemic levels of online abuse aimed at women and girls.

The installation opposite the St Stephen’s Entrance to the Houses of Parliament recreated a ‘danger zone’, featuring a giant mobile phone to highlight the multiple spaces online where women are at risk of abuse. Signs around the site warned passers-by of the dangers to women and girls across social media platforms with slogans like ‘Warning! No protection for women and girls’ ‘Caution! Women and girls at risk’ and ‘Beware! Abuse not taken seriously’.

The charity was joined by supporter Georgia Harrison, whose recent court case over the non-consensual sharing of intimate images by her former partner shed new light on the impact of online abuse on survivors. Refuge Ambassador Sharon Gaffka also attended, sharing her experience of harassment and abuse on social media.

Refuge and sector partners are calling for a violence against women (VAWG) Code of Practice to be included in the Online Safety Bill. Including a VAWG Code of Practice would mean that social media companies would be given specific guidance to enable them to understand, address and respond to online violence against women and girls. Tech companies should put systems in place to help prevent perpetrators using online platforms to abuse, stalk, harass, monitor and control survivors.

An amendment has been tabled by Rt Hon Baroness Morgan of Cotes, Baroness Kidron OBE, Rt Hon Lord Knight of Weymouth and Rt Rev Lord Bishop of Gloucester, and is expected be debated soon.

A new supporter action has been launched by Refuge, asking the public to email members of the House of Lords to support the upcoming amendment which would see a VAWG Code of Practice included in the Bill.


Georgia Harrison said:  

“As someone in the public eye, I know how horrific online abuse and harassment is, but it’s not just those in the public eye who experience this. A recent survey by Refuge found that one in three women in the UK has experienced online abuse or harassment on social media or another online platform. How can we sit back and allow this to happen? We need to make a change.

I want women and girls to feel able to be online safely and confidently. The solution cannot be for women to come offline. So much of our lives are lived online, and we must ensure that social media doesn’t become unsocial for women.

That’s why we have created this installation today, to show that the internet is not currently safe for women; but we aren’t stopping there, we have a solution, and one which could be very easily implemented. Today, the House of Lords will begin debating the Online Safety Bill, and the Peers sitting across the road in the chamber today have a chance to make history.”


Jess Eagelton, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Refuge, said:  

“Including a VAWG Code of Practice would be a simple step, but one that has the power to improve the lives of countless women and girls. The government has said that it considers VAWG to be a ‘national threat’, but we simply do not see that being translated into online protections.

“Experts and survivors alike have told us how important it is that social media companies are held to account for the levels of online abuse being carried out on their platforms. At the moment, they’re marking their own homework and getting away with a shameful response to survivors.

“Something must change if the government is serious about its commitment to tackling online VAWG. We are urging the government and peers to support this amendment and add a VAWG Code of Practice to the Bill.”


Sharon Gaffka, Refuge Ambassador, said:  

“Every day, I am the recipient of unsolicited images, threats of sexual violence and misogynistic abuse online. This is unfortunately a common experience amongst young women. Due to the frequency of such messages, society has seemingly normalised this behaviour, and instead of putting onus on the perpetrators, we are forcing women and girls offline. This is not the solution.

“Today, I hope the government and peers who are now looking at the Bill, will listen to the thousands of Refuge supporters, who have all taken action. Addressing the lack of protection for women and girls in the Online Safety Bill is paramount. I hope to see the Code of Practice, which is so desperately needed, to be included, so that women, and myself, can remain online, safely and confidently.”