Love Island's Georgia Harrison says women and girls 'traumatised' by social media

Georgia Harrison was speaking outside the Houses of Parliament at a demonstration organised by the charity Refuge.
Credit: PA
Georgia Harrison was speaking outside the Houses of Parliament at a demonstration organised by the charity Refuge. Credit: PA

Former Love Island star Georgia Harrison said women and girls are being left "traumatised" by social media as she joined a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament.

The 28-year-old, whose ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear was jailed last month for sharing a video of the couple having sex, called on the government to add more protections to its Online Safety Bill.

Speaking at the event held by women's charity Refuge on Wednesday, the reality TV personality, from Essex, said: "Women are 100% being left traumatised by some aspects of social media.

"We need a code of practice added into the bill so that women and girls are protected online, just as they are in the physical world."

Ms Harrison has become an advocate for vulnerable women since becoming a victim of revenge porn.

Stephen Bear, pictured arriving at court during his trial in 2022. Credit: PA

Her former boyfriend and fellow reality TV contestant Bear shared CCTV footage from the garden of his Loughton home which showed the couple having sex in the garden.

The Only Way Is Essex star Ms Harrison, who waived her legal right to anonymity, said she did not know they were being filmed and had told Bear not to share it.

He was jailed for 21 months at Chelmsford Crown Court in March having been found guilty of two counts of disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress and voyeurism.

But Ms Harrison said she continued to receive abuse online.

"Every day, I am the recipient of unsolicited images, threats of sexual violence and misogynistic abuse online," she said. "This is unfortunately a common experience among 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."

The Ms Harrison wants social media platforms to be "held accountable" for online harassment and abuse, and criticised the justice system for failing to "keep up".

She added: "I think change is long overdue. Social media is massively, rapidly growing. Children are spending far more time on social media than they are in the real world and unfortunately the justice system just hasn't managed to keep up with that.

Georgia Harrison giving her statement outside Chelmsford Crown Court Credit: PA Images

"The Online Safety Bill is definitely the first step towards change, but we need women and girls to be included in that.

"Online, only the perpetrators are actually held accountable, and the platforms are allowed to carry on as if they don't know the illegal activity is happening. This cannot carry on in society - they need to be held accountable."

Research from Refuge has found one in three women in the UK have experienced abuse or harassment online.

The charity and other organisations are calling for a code of practice on violence against women and girls to be added to the bill "to ensure social media companies respond to and prevent online violence" against this group.

It comes as the House of Lords begins its line-by-line scrutiny of the legislation in its committee stage on Wednesday.

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