Hillary Clinton has criticised the “heavily misogynistic” atmosphere online which has seen female parliamentary candidates announce they are not standing in the General Election.
The former US secretary of state also claimed social media culture was serving the “amplification of hatred” which she said led to the “political assassination” of Labour MP Jo Cox.
Mrs Clinton led a panel discussion at Swansea University discussing adversity faced by women, where she highlighted the “intimidation” faced by female politicians.
She said: “Unfortunately, the atmosphere online is heavily misogynistic because apparently the people, and it’s predominantly, though not exclusively, men who spend their time going after women of prominence in whatever field they are in and just can’t let it go.
“What they say is often vile, and when I was in London over the last few days, a number of people told me about women not standing for Parliament this time because of the threats they have received.
“And it’s really particular to them. Threats of death and terrible attacks, including going after their families, in particular mentioning their children.”
Mrs Clinton said she had met with an unnamed female politician who had decided she was not going to stand for the December 12 General Election, who told her, “I just can’t take it”.
The American said: “It is a terrible loss and a loss to democracy if anybody is intimidated out of running, and disproportionately the people choosing not to run in the first instance or for re-election are women.”
She added: “All kinds of hatred and bias has been with us from the beginning of time. That is no surprise, but something about the amplification of the hatred attracts even more people.
“And of course I can’t help but think about Jo Cox, who was the target and victim of a political assassination.”
Mrs Clinton called President Donald Trump a “24/7 bully” when saying the public could not leave the issue of intimidation to politicians.
She told the audience: “We had an explosion of bullying in American schools, and you know… much of it is inspired by the behaviour of our president, who is a, as you know, 24/7 bully on all kinds of issues.
“That is the highest office in our land and that is the role model of our children. The children are picking up on those cues.”
Asked if discussing the issues made her want a return to politics, Mrs Clinton said: “No, but it makes me more determined to support women like those on this panel and to speak out.”
Mrs Clinton, whose grandparents were Welsh, was speaking at the university which named its law school the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law in 2017.
She led the panel, entitled Gutsy Welsh Women, alongside Professor Elwen Evans QC, head of the Hillary Clinton School of Law at Swansea University, Laura McAllister, professor of public policy at Cardiff University, and Kirsty Williams AM, Education Minister for Wales.