Proposals to fight cybercrime have been floating around in Brazil for more than a decade but the backers – primarily banks and music companies worried about internet fraud and unauthorised music sharing – couldn’t find public or parliamentary support till they switched their focus to child pornography. Lula has refused to sanction online censorship and the government has opened a public consultation on what a civil law to regulate the internet should look like. EroTICs researchers Corrêa, Maria and Queiroz explore the history of the Brazilian regulation debate and conclude that the time is ripe to talk about rights – and for feminists and sexual rights activists to get involved. Photo: “Mike Vondran”:http://www.flickr.com/people/over_kind_man/
Two out of three gay South African respondents to an online survey said that going online had helped them accept their sexual orientation and many admitted to coming out online before they did so offline. But the voices of transgender people rarely appear in studies and surveys. To address the gap, APC EroTICs researcher Jeanne Prinsloo of the University of Grahamstown looks at the use of a transgender site which provides a critical space for trans people to lurk and listen to ideas and debates that are not present in mainstream sites, to rehearse their new identity and to assess the risks they might take. Image: “Gender Dynamix”:http://www.genderdynamix.co.za/
Freedom of speech and its flipside, access to information, is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. However federally-funded libraries are required to prevent people under eighteen accessing “harmful” content. Kevicha Echols and Melissa Ditmore investigate the use of internet filters on public library computers and find that measures adopted by libraries range from installation of filtering software on all computers for child and adult use to no filters at all! The law is being implemented differently varying across city, county and state. Sectors of the society most likely to be affected by this ad hoc censorship are young people and the economically-disadvantaged who rely particularly on library computers to access online information. Photo: “FallWithMe”:http://www.flickr.com/people/fallwithme/
The proliferation of sexual content on the internet and the considerable size of the pornography market online is a concern to lots of different groups. However while the online adult sex industry accounts for 12% of web pages, the internet has also been used to express and explore a range of sexual experiences, relationships and content that cannot be considered “harmful”. This kind content is very important to people’s right to freedom of expression and right to information. Especially for people who have little access to resources, rights and spaces in the “off-line” world. Learn more about these issues and the research that APC is doing to understand them better.
“The gay rights movement in Lebanon would not be anywhere near where it is today if it weren’t for the internet”. In the midst of strongly censored neighbours, Lebanon enjoys online freedom that is hampered only by very slow and very expensive internet connections – but is that freedom there to stay? In a country where homosexuality is punishable by upto two years in prison, Nadine Moawad assesses the role of the internet in the rise of sexual rights activism in Lebanon and asks if Lebanon’s strict social controls are about to encompass the internet. Photo: “Laura Burlton”:http://www.flickr.com/people/lauraburlton/
“And I can chat with you baby / Flirt a little, maybe / But does your mother know that you’re out ?” Twenty-something middle-class women in Mumbai, the city with the highest internet use in India, talk about how they explore their sexuality online, how they present themselves however they want and how they deal with risky situations. Photo: “Jef Harris”:http://www.flickr.com/people/jefharris/
“If a boy wants to attend a computer course community members encourage him but if a girl wants to go elders ask her why she wants to complicate her life,” says Dhaka-based Mahmud Hasan. In a country where one in every two males accesses information online yet only three in a hundred Bangladeshi women do, access for schoolgirls is not just about the availability of computers and classes. For girls, it requires the support of the entire community and flexible school schedules as revealed by a study using APC’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM).
While in Africa and Latin America telecentres are trying to cater to the needs of both sexes by making them more accommodating to women, telecentres in the Philippines are trying to make them more inviting to men. A study which looked at one rural and one fishing community using GEM – the APC’s Gender Evaluation Methodology – has helped telecentre managers learn why men are staying away. APC talks to Angelo Juan Ramos of the Philippine telecentre network that carried out the study to find out how GEM uncovered surprising results that will help telecentres appeal to everyone.
In March GenARDIS grant winners met for the last time after more than a year of innovative research and work to improve rural women’s lives in countries like Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic and Zambia. With projects as diverse as community radio drama groups, pest control through information access and using technology to promote women’s inheritance and land rights, projects were as diverse as the countries they came from. But as this third round of small grants winds down, participants are determined to scale up their work.
Politicians aren’t always aware that sound research that could help them make better policy decisions is out there waiting to be used. On the other hand, social networking websites are experiencing an explosive growth worldwide and Latin America is no exception. This new initiative from APC and Latin American telecomms research network DIRSI will bring together researchers and activists to see if it is possible to influence policy debate using blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter and more in Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.
The Bolivian government is focusing on telecentres as a means of bringing internet access to the population, especially in rural and marginalised areas. But according to researcher Orlando Arratia, the structural problems that currently limit connectivity cannot be resolved until the government adopts a national broadband policy.
Smallholders in the desert region of Huaral depend on irrigation cooperatives to water their crops. For ten years one coop association has been developing an information system based on telecentres to help them to make informed agricultural decisions. But the system is being under-utilised and they decided to find what was going wrong. Using APC’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) they found that older people and women over 40 were being left behind. While decision-making spaces are still mainly all-male, at least some issues identified by women are now on the table.
The Beijing conference in 1995 left participants feeling hope and anticipation for the change that was about to come for women and girls across the world. Fifteen years later, the Beijing + 15 conference in New York city is taking look at how close we have come to ending violence against women. The GenderIT.org team tracks the elusive “J-spot”, (section J in the UN Beijing action platform that calls for action in the area of media policy on gender issues, the image of women in the media, and increased participation in decision making) and analyses its progress. While headway has been made in these major areas, somethings also seem to have been overlooked – emerging issues related to privacy and security, especially how new technologies like cell phones can infringe on privacy and personal safety were not addressed. This issue of GenderIT.org digs a littler deeper into the conference, the action platform and what’s to come. Photo: National Media Museum
In the 1990s, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela privatised their telecomms sectors and the policies were a dismal failure. Almost 20 years on the Andean region has some of the worst connectivity statistics of all Latin America. For example only 4 in 100 Bolivians have internet access. Of the four, two will have broadband connections but out-of-date telephone systems will force the other two to use dial-up so slow that viewing YouTube or interactive news sites will be virtually impossible. From 2008 APC has looked at what had gone wrong. Our detailed national reports produced with an eye on influencing the policy debate in Latin America are now collected along with summaries of main points to emerge from the research. Photo: “Velaia”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/velaia/3238166271/
APC has teamed up with Sex Work Awareness in a study to look at content filtering systems in public libraries with internet access in the United States, with an eye towards reproductive health and sexuality. Find out more and take the survey!
Since January, sectarian strife has ripped through Nigerian communities. “A mass burial took place the day before yesterday and body counts are close to three hundred with over 80% of them women and children,” APC member John Dada told APC. “It is ironic that in the month of the Celebration of Women’s Day, such atrocities are being visited on innocent women and children.” Women are culturally respected as the givers of life and John blames deepening poverty and economic alienation for the cultural reversal but he sees a potential solution.
When 29 year-old Huda Sarfraz and her team started to teach Punjabi girls how to create websites and use online chat she feared they might be run out of town. To her surprise however the girls clamoured to learn as much as the boys did and —overturning societal taboos— over-subscribed for the extra-curricular classes – ending up producing prize-winning websites. As a result of guidance provided by IDRC staff and exposure to APC’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM), Sarfraz’s team focused specifically on getting girls and women teachers involved. “Initially, we only saw two groups to work with — students and teachers. However because of GEM, we looked at them as four—girl students, boy students, women teachers and men teachers,” says Huda Sarfraz, team leader for the Dareecha project.
While members of the Pakistani parliament were on a diplomatic trip in the United States to talk about the impact of the ar on terror on northern rural tribes in the country, they were asked by airport security in Washington to be body-scanned. The right not to undergo a body scan is a privilege given to parliamentarians the world over. APC member Bytes for All in Pakistan applauds the Pakistani parliamentarians’ firm stance and refusal to be scanned.
A small team of the APC women’s programme is in New York from 1-12, blogging and twitting from the UN headquarters. While governments are busy reviewing the Beijing Platform of Action, civil society organisations are struggling to participate in the process, and are being kept at bay. Yet they are still managing to keep busy by organising side events, networking, and advocating for the inclusion of a women’s rights perspective in all the discussions. APC is closely following the discussions about communications rights and the role ICTs play within this. Read GenderIT’s coverage.
“As feminists, we are creating our own media and disrupting and challenging mainstream notions of identity and what women are or should be. We are self-representing, to recast ourselves and challenge stale notions of what women are or should be. We are demonstrating the multiplicity and diversity of who we are”, writes APC women’s programme as a prologue to the Beijing+15 review process that is starting on March 1st in New York.