In September, I shall be joining 450 delegates, 250 of whom will be delivering research papers at the European Conference on Domestic Violence. I too will be presenting a research paper at the Conference, besides attending the thought provoking sessions of colleagues, and meeting many who are working in the field of violence against women internationally.
The paper I am currently preparing concerns cyber-enabled gendered crime in the unregulated sperm donor community. Internet sperm donor sites and social networking sites, such as Facebook, are virtual places where women gather in order to meet men who “donate” their sperm – fresh gametes – in person. Intimate and sexual relationships are frequently forged within this reproductive context and as such when violence occurs, it often falls under the definition, ‘domestic violence,’ which has implications for criminal and civil laws.
There is a strong correlation between reproduction/pregnancy and violence against women. The cyber sperm donor community comprises a high risk masculinised arena, where online and offline lives conflate, and where one in two women will experience harm and violence. The research paper I shall be delivering at the ECDV will take issue with this violence and abuse. The paper is entitled, ‘This is Domestic Violence Too: Unregulated Internet Sperm ‘Donors’ and Violence Against Women Trying to Conceive, During Pregnancy, and in the Postpartum Period.’