TOUGH new laws, which will stamp out sexist and misogynistic abuse on social media, have been debated in Parliament thanks to an expert from Essex.

Professor Lorna Woods from the University of Essex has teamed up with Carnegie UK and charities including Refuge and NSPCC to draw up the proposals, which could see tech firms fined and bosses jailed for repeated failures to address abuse.

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The new rules, contained in a code of practice, were put before the House of Lords last on Tuesday, May 17,  as part of a suggested amendment to the Online Safety Bill.

Prof Woods, of Essex Law School, said: "Women and girls are disproportionately affected by online violence and abuse.

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"Given this, a gender-neutral does not identify the full scale of the problem nor necessarily come up with appropriate solutions. 

"The code is aimed at helping social media platforms and search engines develop approaches to mitigate the problem; it is about the way their systems work, not about individual items of content."

The code of practice states that the guidance has been created due to the high prevalence of violence against women and girls perpetrated in the digital scene.