Professor Lim Sun Sun (Sunlight AFA: Protecting women and girls from online Harms)
The internet is wonderful. Its accessibility allows us to freely learn, create, connect and more. But sometimes, freedom leads to mischief that can result in online harms
. That’s why the Ministry of Communications and Information launched the “Singapore Together Alliance for Action to tackle online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls”, also known as Sunlight AfA, to help bring attention to and find solutions against these issues.
We spoke to Lim Sun Sun, Professor of Communication and Technology and Head of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and member of the Sunlight AfA, to learn more about the Sunlight AfA and its impact.
Question: What does Sunlight AfA do?
The internet may be borderless, but our online space can still be heavily impacted by the local community, so it’s important for local and regional communities to protect our online space for people who need it most. Sunlight AfA brings experts from different industries and different segments of our community together to develop solutions against online harms, especially those targeted at women and girls.
Question: What inspired you to join this initiative?
As an academic who has conducted over 15 years of research on issues such as media literacy and youth engagement with media, and a mother to two teens, this is an issue that is close to my heart. As a professor, I have also mentored countless students who have gone on to pursue careers in media and technology. I have seen so many ways in which my teaching can help nurture industry professionals who can be key drivers in making the online world a much safer place.
All our AfA members have been enthusiastic, committed and collegial, and share a sense of mission towards this cause. Working together across so many sectors on this common vision has been rewarding and energising.
Question: What are some of Sunlight AfA plans for the future?
One of our goals is to help the broader research community in Singapore who are interested in tackling the issue of online harms towards women, by providing useful guides and setting directions towards solving urgent issues, and hopefully make a significant impact on public policies towards creating a safer online space for women and girls. We have conducted an online survey in January 2022, to understand the scale and scope of the problem as experienced and perceived by Singaporeans (topline findings can be found here). With these findings, we will be fine-tuning our public education measures and support structures. Namely, we seek to raise awareness of help-seeking avenues for victims of online harms and work with digital platforms to set up easy-to-access mechanisms for users to report harmful content.
Furthermore, we will look into providing holistic support to help victims cope with the psychological impact of online harms and how to equip individuals, including parents and youths, with the knowledge and tools to stay safe online.
We have faith that through the stakeholders’ efforts at Sunlight AfA, Singaporean women and girls will be able to surf the internet safely, and tap on to its wonders so they can learn and communicate online with peace of mind.
Visit www.sg/our-sg-stories to read more inspirational stories from other Singaporeans like Professor Lim Sun Sun. You may also visit here to learn more about Sunlight AfA.
Partnerships are at the heart of the Singapore Together movement. Through the Singapore Together Alliances for Action - and other partnerships, Singaporeans and the government can work together to co-create solutions on issues, and Singaporeans can play an active role in shaping our future together.
All responses mentioned above were edited and condensed for clarity.
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