Reem Bahdi


Women's use of the Internet has received very little attention from feminist legal commentators. While they increasingly turn to it as a source of information and as an advocacy tool, feminist legal scholars and advocates have failed to analyze the Internet in terms of its significance to women. In this Essay, Bahdi argues that feminists must be concerned that access to the Internet is often limited to relatively privileged women in relatively privileged countries. Yet, we can harness the Internet in the promotion of women's rights and recognize it as an important feminist medium, as long as we understand its strengths and take its shortcomings into consideration. Indeed, the strengths and shortcomings of the Internet parallel to a large extent those identified by feminists in the rights debate; and the rights debate provides an established framework for assessing the Internet's efficacy-in particular, its role in the feminist agenda of promoting dignity and equality for women. Bahdi thus begins her analysis of the Internet on the familiar terrain laid out by the feminist debate over rights claims. First, she briefly sets out the debate over rights in the context of international human rights law and the evolving norms of violence against women. Next, she turns to the Internet and seeks to draw parallels between the rights debate and the Internet's efficacy in advancing women's rights. Finally, Bahdi discusses the need for vigilance and constant evaluation of our use of the Internet, identifying some strategies that can help make the Internet more accessible to women and women's groups around the world.

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