Cyber-insecurity impedes fight Against Violence on Women

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The UN estimates that 95% of aggressive behavior, harassment, abusive language and denigrating images in online spaces are aimed at women and come from partners or former male partners. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) such as the internet and mobile phones are the most used tools by abusers as a platform to attack their victims but also used by survivors of violence to connect for help.

Let’s start with a question; how can ICT multi – lateral corporations such as Google and Facebook be fully informed about what women want and need when there’s little or  no input from 52% of the world’s majority population who are essentially women on issues that affect gender dimension of women and girls in the digital space? This percentage number that consists  largely of women as already noted is lagging behind. The question to ask is what more should be done to ensure the fight on Violence Against Women is  stopped with effective and efficient use of ICTs?

ICTs create new scenarios for people to live and these can be seen in real-­life issues today. Women need to negotiate their rights about this issue with determination and confidence because even if Women have not been an active part of policy and decision-­making  processes in a country  like Uganda, the rapid pace of change online means women need to actively participate in the internet governance discourse to ensure that the future of the internet is shaped putting into account women’s rights.

Uganda’s ICT  industry is  one of the fastest growing sectors and this can be evident in the diversity channels in which information is passed on, related policy and regulatory framework and the growth of the telecommunications sector. This is  a great stride, however, focus should be put to  areas that sensitizes women in the digital space as well as protect their rights from abuse.

To women, the internet is a vital public subject that directly affects them due to barriers of access to media or political representation. Inequalities that women face in terms of economic power, education and access to resources also affect access and participation in policy, shaping the use of internet and its debates. This explains why the internet has become an increasingly critical public sphere for the claiming of personal private lives, citizenship rights and civil liberty not forgetting women’s rights. For people who have little access to other kinds of public platforms due to the multiple forms of discrimination they face such as gender, age, class or sexuality, the internet is a vital space to negotiate and realise their rights

Young girls such as these are prone to cyber attacks

Young girls such as these are prone to cyber attacks

Women have not been raised and trained to be involved and participate in ICTs, this has resulted into minimal or no contribution by women in that area. Because women are less exposed and lack knowledge on the dangers of use of ICTs, they most time fall victims of Violence Against Women (VAW) through ignorant use of ICTs E.g. the current epidemic of sex scandals shown all over social media in around the world.

According to Monitor publication in Uganda, one of the leading Newspaper Daily, it  quotes that “Sex tapes are part of pervasive levels of violence against women”, http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/Commentary/Sex-tapes-are-part-of-pervasive-levels-of-violence-against-women/-/689364/2618598/-/q4h7kiz/-/index.html.  This article shows the increasing ways through which women’s private life is being hampered in the digital when their private sex life with their partners are unkowing released in form of sex video to the general public. This is a real threats to wome’s freedom online and further hinders women’s participation in the online space.

Because the world is evolving greatly as far as  ICTs  are concerned, there is a greater need for women to be part of the debate on internet and internet governance. Women’s contribution in the cyber security and internet freedom debate is very significant and organisations such as WOUGNET continue to tirelessy work to empower women to be abe to use ICTs to address sustainable development issues.

Daisy Arutun is a Program Assistant with the Women of Uganda Network and she is passionate about the roles of women and girls towards STEM