Uganda: Is technology a blessing or a curse?

This was just the question that was addressed at a recent seminar at the University of Makerere in Uganda conducted as part of the country’s participation in APC’s Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women initiative which is taking place in twelve countries on of which is Uganda.

Members of the public, students and academics all gathered to hear details of case studies from Malaysia, South Africa and Uganda looking at the intersection between ICTs and violence against women. These case studies lead to a lively discussion where participants raised comments on issues of privacy, explored in detail how technology is ‘fuelling’ violence and discussed how technology can be used to mitigate vice.

In relation to privacy Aramanzan Madanda the consultation convenor noted that “The participants observed that women (and men) divulge a lot of personal details on social networking sites such as Facebook and similar sites, which compromises their privacy and possibly security. They noted that spouses often used mobile phones to monitor their spouses all the time. They expect the spouses to be available on line 24 hours a day and that if that they are expected to answer the calls instantly. If women especially fail, the consequences may include battering.”

The debate went on to address concern regarding the Government of Uganda’s proposed legislation that would legalise phone tapping. The key observation here being that whereas government would be enforcing security, privacy rights may be abused and that the proper checks and balances need to be integral to the legislation if it is to pass into law.

The seminar identified the need for further research into the issues raised and it is hoped that more students will become engaged in looking at these issues in the future.

To read more about the issues raised in this seminar and others relating to gender-based violence check out the work of APC’s Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women project, including new reports on the state of violence and ICTs in 12 countries.

This post has been based on a report provided by Aramanzan Madanda.

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