Publisher: GenderIT.org PRAGUE, 26 August 2008
This month, APC women’s GenderIT bulletin investigates online crime, cyberstalking, and asks how women are being affected. In “Finding a difficult balance – Human rights, law enforcement and cyber violence against women” Mavic Cabrera-Balleza speaks to activists from South Africa and the USA. Wieting Xu looks at cybercrime in India. Argentina lawyer Carlos Gregorio argues that “Cybercrime laws are not enough, there is also a need for education”. And Ramata Soré discovers that in Burkina Faso women are the perpetrators as well as the victims of internet fraud.
“Gender Centred” also carries cyberstalking statistics which reveal that —while women are still the primary victims, with men as the primary harassers— male victims and female stalkers have significantly increased over the years. Cynthia Armistead, the founder of the site Cyberstalked.org, shares the experiences of her and her daughter as targets of online harassment over several years.
Here’s more tasters….
Human rights, law enforcement and cyber violence against women. GenderIT writer Mavic Cabrera-Balleza probed on new analytical frameworks of violence against women taking into account cyber violence and the challenges and dilemmas women activists confront as they struggle to address this relatively new dimension of gender injustice.
She spoke with two women activists who are at the forefront of advocacy on violence against women at the national and international levels – Lesley Ann Foster, founder and Executive Director of Masimanye Women’s Support Network in South Africa and Charlotte Bunch, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.
The different forms of online violence against women should be covered by criminal legislation to provide adequate protection and redress. However, laws are not enough. There is also a need for education, prevention, the development of defence mechanisms and a legal system that is capable of addressing these issues without subjecting the victims to further victimisation. Carlos Gregorio, a researcher at the Research Institute for Justice (Instituto de Investigación para la Justicia) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, shares his views on a number of issues related to cybercrime.
In assessing cyber crime legislation, policy makers and gender and development advocates must carefully consider the implications for privacy and information security. On the one hand, ICT have created opportunities to combat inequality through movements and communities against issues that were once deemed ‘private’, such as domestic violence and sex trafficking. On the other hand, ICT exacerbate existing structures of inequality by enabling cyber criminals to access and misuse private information to target vulnerable groups. As ICT blur the lines between personal and public, the nature of the internet and cyber crime – including how they affect human rights and social justice – must be questioned. Weiting Xu casts a gendered lens on cybercrime laws in India.
Fraud, data piracy, seeking partners on the internet: Ramata Soré discovers that women in Burkina Faso are as much victims as perpetrators. From Ouagadougou to Banfora via Bobo-Dioulasso, and from Ouahigouya to Dori, all towns with an internet connection are affected by this phenomenon. However, the fight against this crime is in the tentative stages, if not altogether non-existent. Legislation is still under development.